A Culinary Bar Mitzvah
One day for no apparent reason other than possibly having hit the wall of maternal burnout, my mother announced that she was cutting down on her house chores. This included the elimination of ironing, reversing shirt collars, darning socks, patching holes in underwear and worst of all, cooking elaborate dinners with desserts.
She even forced my father to hire a black woman, Lizzie, to come in once a week to help out.
I found out about this new domestic policy the hard way when I approached my mother one afternoon to ask her if she would make my favorite dessert, a cherry pie. The rudely shocking rebuke went like this.
- From now on if you want a cherry pie, make it yourself.
- But I don’t know how.
- You should know. You watched me do it often enough.
Fait accompli and that was it. I was on my own.
However I was at least smart enough to attempt this first culinary effort on a Sunday afternoon when my parents went to some social event, so I would not risk having my mother standing over my back, yelling about the mess I was making in her kitchen.
Although I had tried my best to cover up the dessert debacle before my parents got home by tossing the mess into the outside garbage can, the escapade was still discovered by the ‘maternal detective.’ Not too difficult as there was sugar, flour, dough and crimson syrup traces strewn about the kitchen along with that characteristic give-away residual of “pastry baking in the oven smell.”
It was a classical no-win situation because I still got yelled at for making a mess,and wasting food along with the conundrum scolding circular argument of not doing the project when she was around to help me.
- But, Mom, you said “Make the pie yourself.”
- I didn’t mean ‘by yourself’ because you don’t know how.
- But isn’t that what I said in the first place?
- Shut up. And from now on just stay out of my kitchen.
My father told me not to be too upset as he told me about the first cherry pie he had ever made when he went to college.
- I don’t think yours was sweet enough. You should have tried my recipe. I used Maraschino cherries.
(Just add water)
Can she bake a cherry pie, Billy boy, Billy boy?
Can she bake a cherry pie, darlin’ Billy?
She can bake a cherry pie quick as a cat can blink an eye.
She’s a young thing and cannot leave her mother
The Theory of Minimalism