The Wedding Report: Flowers Don’t Feed A Need

A single orchid, upside down, in an oversized cylinder. An autumn bouquet of red and orange chrysanthemums. A bowl of fish who nibble at the white lilies floating above them. All of these cost money, enough money to feed a local family for a month. All of them will be wilted, faded, – or in the case of the fish – dead within 24 hours.

There are two ways to avoid the fate of these ephemeral flowers.

(1) Use silk flowers
(2) Forgo flowers

These who chose option (1) can still have bright bouquets and beautifully blooming centerpieces. There is only one difference – the large tag on each arrangement which proclaims, “This arrangement is from _______ gamach, and must be returned at the end of the wedding. Do not take the flower arrangement home.” By placing those prominently throughout the room, you are telling your guests that you think they are crass enough to steal fake flowers.

On the other hand, you can go with option (2) and be bold, hip, and edgy: you can go flowerless. By leaving flowers out of the equation you can cut down on planning stress and strife, save money, and refrain from letting your relatives know just how cheap you think they are. Instead of holding a bouquet for the walk down the aisle, stand tall and poised and no one will notice the lack of blooms. Getting rid of all those flowers at the bedekin and chuppah will make it less hazardous for high-heeled bridesmaids and unsteady grandparents alike. Do away with centerpieces altogether, and allow guests a clear view of each other without peaking and peering around a bushel of flowers. If you must fill the table with something, arrange a basket of food with a card noting its donation to the local food bank after the celebration. A food basket will cost less than flowers, brighten up a table, and still feed a local family for a month.

To Be a Moroccan Mother

A Moroccan mother serves others, not herself. She learns at her mother’s side that family, friends, and guests come before herself.  Her standards of herself are those of her mother and grandmother, unimpinged by reason or modern mores.

When she visits others, she will faint rather than ask for for a cup of water or crust of bread – even in the home of her daughter. In her own home, guests are assaulted with fruit and cakes.  “You’re hungry,” is always a declarative sentence, protesting will do you no good. Resistance by the guest is ignored; salads, fish, and other delicacies are piled on the table until something is tasted. Continued refusal will result in additional food stuffs, inquiries into possible allergies, and worry. Once you have put something – anything – on your plate the Moroccan mother will relax until it’s finished. When you’ve finished your snack, the Moroccan mother knows that you are either preparing to say farewell or waiting for her to refill your plate.

A Moroccan mother doesn’t make suggestions; she issues commands. A Moroccan mother will explain to you how things ought to be – people should be kind and patient and children should be well cared-for. She will never disagree, but she will explain her position at length – asking at intervals for approvals which can’t be denied – until the other party, rightly, agrees.

A Moroccan mother is tough; nothing gets past her. She can keep any secret, including the location of secret military bases. However, if she thinks it helpful to reveal her knowledge she’ll open up and tell all. To be a Moroccan mother is powerful, to get in the way of a Moroccan mother is  foolhardy.

A Moroccan mother also comes with her own salad dressing:

Moroccan Mother Salad Dressing

salt

pepper

oil

Pour approximately 1 tsp of salt into a soup spoon, sprinkle pepper over salt just until salt is completely covered. Fill remainder of spoon with oil; mix with fork and pour over salad. For large quantities of salad add another spoonful of oil.

Latkes

“The worse they look, the more you know that they’re home-made and not store-bought,” said Special Correspondent Ellen, as she ladled latke batter into the hot pan and frowned at the resultant lumps. “Even though the store-bought ones might taste better.”

Latkes

4 lb potatoes

4 onions

2 eggs

1 tbsp salt

1 tbsp pepper

oil for frying

Roughly chop potatoes and onions as necessary. Put food processor on “grate” setting;  grate  potatoes and onions. If potato mixture is over-processed place in strainer and push down with a spatula to squeeze out excess liquid. Place potato mixture in bowl; stir in eggs, salt, and pepper. Pour oil into pan and allow to heat; add potato batter by the large teaspoons. Wait until edges of latkes are very browned, then flip. Repeat. If you cannot bring yourself to use the necessary quantities of oil, find an assistant or buy latkes from a store – this is not the time to stint on oil. For added flavor and sky-high fat-intake replace oil with gribenes [chicken fat] or nyfat [syntheic gribenes] like your grandmother used to do.

When your smoke detector goes off, be prepared with a flexible cutting board so that you can wave away the smoke. If that proves insufficient, remove batteries until the smoke clears.

23: The Maple Syrup Birthday

Children cannot be trusted with maple syrup. Maple syrup, even in the maple forests of the northeastern United States, is an expensive commodity. Children, with their developing fine motor skills and ignorance of prices, do not comprehend the preciousness of this item. Instead, when given the opportunity, they tend to cover all available plate space, and some of the table, with maple syrup. Artificial syrup was invented to provide children with a syrup outlet and their parents with a way to afford sustenance on which to pour the syrup.

Artificial syrups are not bad substances; they retain a sweet flavor for as long as it takes to consume french toast, pancakes, or waffles. While thinner and runnier than the maple syrup derived from tree sap, artificial syrup still makes breakfast foods fun and festive. For those who like experimentation, there are a variety of artificial syrups for various taste sensations. Children who use only artificial syrups are not deprived, but they do not enjoy the depth of flavor or sweetness contained in real maple syrup.

There will always be a defining line between those who use maple syrup and those who use their poor imitations. Those who use real maple syrup are mature, trusted, and tasteful. Those who retain their penchant for artificial syrups are young and allow their sweet tooth to overwhelm their common sense. The line between these two approaches is exact and irrevocable: it’s the age of 23.

At 23 years you are wise enough to understand the value of real maple syrup, drained from the trees of Vermont and shipped all over the world. You are mature enough to appreciate the subtle taste difference and tones of maple syrups. You are a worthy consumer. Most importantly, at 23 you are grown up enough to be trusted with a 1/2 gallon of maple syrup to call your own.

Happy 23rd birthday to all maple syrup eaters and to Special Correspondent Dena.

The Wedding Report: Bridesmaids

Each bridesmaid has her breaking point.

It’s the dress.

She could take the pressure, she could take the snide remarks, she might have been able to stomach the price, but she couldn’t take the dress. It was the dress itself that sent her into a downward spiral which ended with her on the floor unable to move and unwilling to go forward.

It’s the people.

She could always get along bride, she was friendly with each of the bridesmaids, but as a group she couldn’t stand them. She tried hard to be nice and facilitate the wedding planning – she brought homemade baked goods to each of the bridesmaids’ planning sessions. The end result was pact of silence and a promise, on her part, to never give homemade goodies to the undeserving – especially those bridesmaids who couldn’t be bothered to even attend the bridal shower they’d planned and she’d been coerced into hosting.

It’s the duties.

She could handle the endless phone calls from bossy bridal relatives ordering her to get things she didn’t know existed in convenience stores, she was happy to help the family go to the jewelry shop the night before the wedding to pick out necklaces for all the sisters, but she could not take the hair-and-makeup lady. Straining to keep the smile on her face and keep the bride on time, she did not have the wherewithal to embrace the pancake makeup and  80s hairstyle which the makeup lady had foisted on her. She snapped, but it was too late. In the wedding pictures her big hair covers a head whose makeup, reapplied by her own hand, looks natural and whose smile seems unnaturally bright.

Each bridesmaid has her breaking point; none of them has it easy.

The Perfect Present, According to Me

“What do you like best?” asks my mom, spreading her arms out to encompass the kitchen, or maybe the world. I limit myself to the kitchen and, pausing in putting away the silverware, slowly turn to take in the room.

The oven, dishwasher, sink, and microwave, which are in front of us, are clearly out of the question as potential wedding presents. I have neither the funds nor the back strength to purchase and deliver any of those those. Plus, when  microwaves age they leak toxic waves and I wouldn’t want to expose anyone to that. My mom inventories the kitchen too; noticing the silverware I’m putting away she tells me it was a wedding present. “Randy got it for me; she got married a few months before us, so she really knew what we would need.” My gaze continues to take in our packed kitchen, though I’m now wondering how my mom lucked out with such a great cousin, as my mom gestures to the open cabinet of drinking glasses; “Randy got those  for us too.”

I am still not sure what I should buy for the next day’s bridal shower but, busy figuring if any of my cousins will be as thoughtful as Randy, I am momentarily distracted. I move further into the kitchen toward the snack drawers, wondering if it might be best to purchase a candy platter and call it a day. As I walk past the closed cabinets, I freeze. Inside this cabinet, as I well know, is a set of three pyrex mixing bowls – mixing bowls that make any kitchen job easier. Pyrex mixing bowls are not just any bowls, they’re hard to break – as I know from dropping them repeatedly – , easy to clean, and hold up well with both hot and cold contents.

A quick drive to Bed Bath and Beyond plus $11, and I became the  – albeit briefly –  owner of a set of pyrex mixing bowls.  More importantly, I need never ponder over a bridal shower gift again, for I have chosen the pyrex bowls as my signature gift. To those who would give these bowls as a bridal shower gift, be forewarned:  I declare that, unless unforeseen circumstances intervene, I will come to a bridal shower with a set of pyrex bowls. You will have to continue your search for that elusive perfect gift; I’ve found mine.