Remembering Mother’s Day

This is the first Mother’s Day since mine passed away last year. Wanting to think happy thoughts took me back to 2009. Mom had just fought and won a hard battle with Lupus. Her doctor was proud of her changes in diet and exercise that helped the medical treatments she received. Her doctor recommended that she treat herself to something special in celebration, throwing caution to the wind.

Mom had recently seen a feature on Oprah extolling the delicious dessert “Frozen Hot Chocolate” featured at a restaurant in New York City. She started a tradition that lasted several years where she would venture north on an Amtrak train to visit me in The Big Apple and my brother near Washington DC. Each region had their own distinctive ethnic food outlets. And mom loved to find and try new food experiences. She would travel up with empty suitcases and coolers that were filled on the way back to Florida.

For that first trip fourteen years ago her first stop was at an Upper East Side restaurant named Serendipity III for that Frozen Hot Chocolate. As I was working that day Pamela took her for her special treat and you can see them enjoying ice cream specialities.

I proceeded to take her to a variety of great food sites in the city but my favorite (and hers) was Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. You’ve likely heard of Little Italy in Manhattan but over the decades it has become a small tourist district surrounded by a thriving Chinatown. There are no real Italians living there anymore. There is, however, a thriving alternate Little Italy clustered around Arthur Avenue in the Bronx. As you walk down the street or stop in the shops, you hear Italian spoken by current residents. There are a couple of souvenir shops but mostly they are bakeries, butcher shops, vegetable and fruit stands, and even hand rolled cigars.

Here is a photo of us at Madonia Brothers, a fabulous Italian bakery with great traditional cookies and fresh loaves of specialty breads. My favorite attraction is their Cannolis. They only stuff the shells when you order it so that the ricotta filling does not soften the freshly baked shells. Delicious. (Pardon my face, I was trying out “friendly lamb chops” where my sideburns meet at my mustache, skipping my chin. Pretty silly but I enjoy changing up my beard from time to time.)

But her favorite and mine is the Calabria Pork Store. They have imported Italian provisions of the highest quality; fresh made mozzarella cheese and their specialty, of course, is pork products, especially cured ones. You can see lots of different types of sausages curing while hung from the ceiling at their own leisure. The aroma is intoxicating. Mom tried a wide variety and I got my favorite dry sweet sausage as usual.

Though mom’s usual avoidance of cameras at any cost was relaxed at first you can see above she was fed up with all the pictures and stuck out her tongue in protest. So on this Mother’s Day I’m remembering all of our food adventures too numerous to go into here. I’m hoping that wherever she is this Sunday the manna is tasty or she will be whipping up her own recipe to teach them how it is done.

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