Some of the time, I value dessert more than how I will look in my wedding gown, but only until dessert is finished. Once it is gone from my plate, I forget why the pull of chocolate lava was so strong. The dilemma arises yet again when dessert and I come to a crossroads. Catholics have a lot of guilt, and so do Italians but I don't want guilt and food to mix. In moderation, there need not be guilt. My best friend's mother is a physician. We shared a meal together recently and she dug in with much fervor to a hot antipasto, a smile across her face. She said "if you want something, eat it, just not every single day. Even french fries." These doctor's orders I will adhere to.
While a student at Georgetown, I worked as a hostess at an Italian restaurant called Filomena. It was a grand place; Presidents eat there. It's where I met my future husband (woah husband sounds so, well, momentous- I have not yet written the word where I was the bride in that equation.) It was there I also solidifed my love of tiramisu, wore my first cummerbund, made dear girlfriends, and ate far too many portions of Gnocchi della mama. I still recall my Saturday evening ritual of working dinner service, purchasing a piece of cake from the mammoth dessert case, and trapsing up Wisconsin Avenue at the end of my shift in my Dansko clogs, cake in tow. Sneaking quietly up the stairs, I would strip off my uniform and cozy myself in bed. You bet I ate that cake with a plastic fork, watching Netflix in my jammies. I managed to lose a bit of weight that year, despite this ritual. And moreso, that one slice of cake a week made me abundantly happy.
Just as soon as I am certain I've made some progress navigating young adulthood, a circumstance yanks me back to reality, to humble and shape me. Self criticism abounds alongside waterworks and doubt; a chocolate fudge sundae and a hug from mom follow suit. I often wonder how my mom puts up with my incessant nagging and anxiety. Nana too. I crave her reassurance, reassurance in general -whoever can provide some. Only half joking, I tell her often I am grateful that she never sent me back down stream in a basket for someone to find, like Moses. She said, "mothers never send back their babies." I took great comfort in that. My greatest vulnerabilities tend to be self-made. What I would give to be apathetic for a couple of minutes a day, to stop analyzing and wondering about the normative, but then that would be changing my fabric. A mentor once told me "every quirk is another thread in your tapestry." The challenge we are afforded is to figure out what we can learn from those threads and the impact we can make despite them, or maybe more importantly, because of them.
When I was little I wanted to be a cashier. I liked the way the items sounded when they were scanned. I wanted a conveyor belt of my own. The foods in motion inspired me; bite after bite, meal after meal would come from those ingredients. At age eight, I received a working cash register for my birthday. I dreamt of small enterprises and made sweet little tags to "scan" and store in the register. My parents entertained my fixation and I had a substantial collection of plastic food to play grocery store. I never actually worked in a grocery store oddly enough, but that register is still somewhere in the recesses of my mother's attic.
My second greatest aspiration as a young girl was to be an ice cream scooper. What life more dignified than to bring people joy by way of an ice cream cone. And oh the forearm muscles I would have. Those forearms would spark conversation. Onlookers would say, "those forearms scoop ice cream." I would walk with pride, rainbow sprinkles affixed to the bottom of my shoes. I never worked in an ice cream store either sadly enough, but it's never too late.
- butter for greasing popover pan
- 3 slices pork roll (Taylor Ham) ou can also substitute 2 sausage links, 3 slices canadian bacon or 3 slices of center-cut bacon.
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- 1/2 cup mixed shredded cheeses I've used Parmigiana, Asiago, and Mozzarella.
- 2 eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup milk, at room temperature
- 3/4 cups flour
- 1/2 diced red onion
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
To Prepare the Popovers
This recipe makes six popovers and was adapted from Giada De Laurentiis.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter your popover pan, or muffin tin. Dice taylor ham and cook over medium heat until browned. Add minced garlic and cook about 30 seconds longer, tossing until aromatic.
Spoon 1/6 of your meat and garlic mixture into each popover cup. Sprinkle an equal portion of cheese into each as well.
Blend eggs using an emulsion blender or mixer until fluffy. Add the flour, milk, red onions, basil, salt and pepper and mix until incorporated. Pour the batter into popover cups , right below the rim. Top with more cheese if desired. Bake in the oven until puffed, about 35 minutes. Do not open the oven or they may deflate. Let cool and enjoy.