If I were to pick one thing that defines me, I’d tell you that I’m passionate about food. I’ve been a foodie since around birth. Which is such an overused term these days, but true story, my love for good food was present in every aspect of my upbringing. I grew up on homemade baby food (which I now realize was actually paté), everyone gets their hands dirty on Thanksgiving Day, and I was sent to school with really weird [“gourmet”] school lunches. Trust me; no one was willing to trade me their “Snak Pak” for my Tupperware of huckleberry crumble. I remember longing for a PB & J with plain ol’ grape jelly, instead of the “bluebonnet jelly” (fittingly blue) that normally stood in the fridge amongst a variety of pickled items and mysterious condiments who’s exact purpose would be unknown to a vast majority of the population.
I remember my sister’s friend and her mom coming for dinner one night; my industrious mother repurposed leftover béchamel, adding parmesan, garlic and herbs, and with a whip of her whisk it was Alfredo. Pairing it with pan fried chicken and perfect al dente campanelle (we never had ordinary fettuccini) she served it to her guests. The daughter shot her mother a horrified look, a look asking if she would have to EAT my mom’s take on Fettuccini Alfredo, and her mother said to her, “It’s fried chicken and mac and cheese! Shut up and eat it!”
That’s just how my mom did things.
Now that I’m a grown up, and running this little food company (called Ham I Am!) that was started 31 years ago by my rock-star-of-a-mother, I do my best to honor her and the values and appreciation she instilled in me, but it’s a balancing act trying to find a happy median between the adult in me and the good little hipster trying to have as much fun as possible, nosh at all the trendy spots and drink more craft cocktails than she should before the clock hits 2 am. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make me special. In fact, it makes me terribly basic. And the truth is I’m not my mother. I wish. I long for her energy, attention to detail, drive, and charisma. That special touch she has to put on a party effortlessly. But one thing I’ve learned it’s NOT effortless. It is a lot of a four letter word, W-O-R-K, and the petrifying bottom line is, one day my mom is going to pass on the baton, and I’m going to have to step up (and you will too).
I recall my sister saying to my mom recently, “Mom, what are you trying to do? Maybe I know a better way.” Now, I’m no Martha, or Rachel, and I would not say for one second I can do ANYTHING better than my mother, but maybe I can do some things with less effort and still throw a dinner party on fleek. So crank up some gangsta rap, and let’s honor thy mother—don’t worry, we’ll do as little work as possible.