De Nada

IMG_4635De Nada.
It’s a Spanish Expression for “You’re Welcome”
It is politely and colloquially used as a response to “Gracias” (i.e.: “Thank You.”)
Literally, it means “Of Nothing,” as to say “Truly, it’s Nothing at All.”

Mother’s Day. 2015.
MOM only wanted one thing.
EggPlant Parmesan.

At 88, MOM can assemble and bake it, but frying the EggPlant is quite a chore.
So, I will fry it up. And I will bring it to her,
to have and to store in the Freezer for future use.
It’s a Helluva’ Job.
MOM’s Eggplant is like a Mille-Feuille
Paper thin slices of Eggplant — Coated in Egg, Milk, Flour, Salt & Pepper —
Gently Fried in a single Layer
Then Drained on Paper Towel to remove the oil.
It is a freakin’ Mess.
And the House Smells of Frying Oil for Days.
It is So Delicious.
But Wildly Labor Intensive.
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On Thursday Night, home late, I stop at the SuperMarket and pick up a pile of Eggplants, 2 Dozen Eggs, Milk, 2 Bottles of Oil…
On Friday Evening I rush home from Work, pull out the Mandoline, pare the skin off of eight large EggPlants, and begin slicing until well past the point where my shoulder hurts.
I drain the EggPlant in a colander with some salt,
Season the flour with salt and pepper in one bowl.
And whisk the Eggs with the Milk in another.

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I pull out all my Frying Pans, fill them with oil.
And begin working at lightning speed,
Dredging and dipping and frying and draining…
Every Burner on the Stove is in Use.
It requires the Entire Kitchen.
I see from my window, the slim-hipped boys coming and going from the gym.
I think how I’d like to be doing that.
I am wanting something other then the 8 hours of kitchen drudgery which has begun on this Beautiful Spring Evening.

1966
The Boy, like most kids, is a finicky eater.
He likes EggPlant Parmesan.
He doesn’t eat Tuna or Bologna.
The Mother makes him an EggPlant Parmesan Sandwich Every Day to take to school.
Every Day.
(Even then, it was apparent that I would not be a slim-hipped Gym Bunny!)
Every Day the other kids in the cafeteria ask, “What is That!?”
Every Day she has four Children and a Husband to get off to School and Work.
Every Night she dredges and fries a few slices of eggplant before going to bed.
Preparing the Kid’s Lunch for tomorrow.
He notices that his Mother looks out the Window a lot when she’s cooking.
It never occurs to him that she might rather be somewhere else
Or might be Missing Something…

The thing that is So Amazing about a Mother’s Love
Is that it is not just a Gift in itself.
Beyond that, it actually teaches you How to Love.

Mother’s Day 2015

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I was up until 2am Frying, Draining and Cleaning Up.
I awoke today and spent over an hour packing it all into Freezer Bags, single layer by single layer, separated by paper towel sheets, and ready for freezing.
I packed my cooler bag to drag on three trains and make the 2-hour trek up to MOM’s.

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I walk in the door and present her with this most unglamourous yet Heartfelt Gift
For Mother’s Day.
When I tell MOM how she made it for me Every Day as a Kid, she says, “Did I? I don’t remember that.”

MOM asks how many EggPlants I made this time.
I tell her, “Eight,” and she scolds me.
“Too Much Work! You know you could’ve made Less.”

De Nada.

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1 Comment

  1. Lou Monteforte

     /  May 10, 2015

    Arnold. Great as always. Only thing I would say is when your mom was looking out the window of that little kitchen in apartment 4A on Mosholu Parkway I think she was looking at the laundry drying on the cloths line and wondering when she was going to put another load of laundry on!

    Reply

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