Feeding a picky eight year old can be hard. Feeding a picky eight year old visiting her potato-growing grandma is a whole other story. A Tex-Mex and Chinese guzzling eight year old just cannot understand her grandma’s cuisine philosophy. Especially if they are as follows:
- Use only Salt and pepper for spices
- Serve every meal with boiled potatoes and carrots.
- Eat fish every day except Sunday. Then you can eat salmon (No. This is not fish.)
And so after many days of sitting potty-mouthed at the table, and then secretly stealing lefse after every meal. We reached a compromise. My sister and I would eat three things: 1.Mashed potatoes and sausage 2. Meat balls and 3. Fleskepannekaker (Norwgian pancakes cooked in bacon fat)
At 17, I was a bonafide Norwegian fish monger. Unfortunately, I wasn’t quite the fishmonger my ancestors would be proud of. There was no hawking of my wares from a gently swaying boat along the harbor to hungry housewives. Instead, I mostly sold to tourists who mostly bought small opened faced sandwiches, and sometimes gave me a hard time for selling whale.
In my booth, there were no foul-mouthed sailors staring out to sea to ensure their safe voyage back home. I sold fish with Santiago from Uruguay, always drinking mate, Eduardo from Barcelona, always smoking and sometimes singing “Singing in the Rain” with me when the weather was really terrible — which was most of the time. Out of 15 employees, there was one other Norwegian.
Let me take you on a journey through Italy’s olive groves.
We’ll start beyond the boot, across the strait of Mesina in Sicily. You’ll step sweating out of a broken-down dilapidated car and follow an old man in a newspaper boy’s cap up a dirt road. He’ll tell you in a dialect that seems more Arabic than Italian that here olives are grown up to 700-800m above sea level and this year alone they have grown olives on 160,000 ha.
You’ll look at the stout twisted porous trunks and the patches of yellow grass surrounded by dirt and wonder at the wealth of olives weighing down the branches to near breaking point. You’ll fix the car and continue. Across the strait in Calabria the rolling hills and huge olive groves continue.
It’s Fall and I’m craving meals cooked slowly for hours
Some days aren’t yours. From day in to day out, nothing is yours. Your monitor’s glare seems to complement the words that run through your head all day. “You idiot. You jerk. You followed your dreams and where has it left you? Poor, unhappy and extremely aware of how bleak your future is in comparison to the 20 or 21-year-old faces that see you only as an e-mail address or as a means to get what they want.”