Archive | November, 2011

How to Find and Eat Every Morsel of Lobster

27 Nov

Do you know how to crack open a lobster and find every piece of meat? Whether my mom enjoyed the challenge or just loved lobster, she was never satisfied until the lobster was completely cleaned out. Actually, this obsession was typical of her Type A, perfectionist behavior. When she took on a task, she made sure to complete it-with great attention to detail and outcome.

When she was first diagnosed with lung cancer, my dear friend and her fiancé sought a  way to cheer her up, to get her mind off her illness for at least a few hours. I can remember their insistence on going out for a seafood dinner with my mom. How thoughtful! They told her that she had to take them up on her offer –they needed better lobster-eating techniques. While the impetus was to distract and entertain my mom, there was also the desire to learn how to eat lobster Phyllis-style. So, the four of us drove south to Bahrs Seafood Restaurant in Atlantic Highlands. My friends still talk about that wonderful night and important food lesson!

Recently, I had the good fortune to pass this great lobster talent along to my son. While my family has eaten many pounds of lobster both in restaurants and at home, I had never demonstrated the proper clean-out/get every drop procedure. I usually just take over the eating when they think they are done (selfishly wanting those few extra pieces for myself)! A few weeks ago, my son and I were enjoying a weekend away for his soccer tournament and found ourselves looking for a restaurant in Bethesda, Maryland. He, a seafood fanatic, spotted Freddy’s Lobster Restaurant and soon after, he was ready to dig into a beautifully steamed red lobster. Since we were alone and chatting about all sorts of things, I started to reminisce about my mom’s lobster eating. One thing led to another and soon he was enjoying every single piece of meat, from the tail and claw to the tiny walking legs. I am fully confident that he will continue to find every morsel of meat in lobsters and, hopefully even pass the technique along to his own children!

I am grateful for all of the big and little things my mom taught me. I vacuum and dust in crevices and corners, fold towels in thirds, use a spatula to scrape batter from the bowl, spin lettuce dry and even eat the white part of an orange (she was right—great nutritional value in the pith). What special or even ordinary techniques do you employ because of your mom’s instruction?

I often think back to the dinner my friends and I shared with my mother about 20 years ago and I am flooded with warm and sweet memories. Despite the underlying reason for our dinner, I have a vivid picture of us enjoying the evening—watching boats pass in the bay while we ate, laughed and savored each moment and each morsel of lobster.

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I Wish I Could Hear Her Voice

13 Nov

Although I recall things my mom said to me and conversations we had, I miss her voice. I had not put much thought into hearing her voice until recently. During a visit with my (very wonderful) cousin, he mentioned watching his wedding video so we could hear my mom talk (and relive that most precious day). We did not get around to watching the video, yet his thoughtful and thought-provoking comment resonated with me.

I’ve heard stories about terminally ill people who make videos and tape recordings to leave for family and friends. Perhaps because I’ve always thought the idea is sweet, but eery or because I was too caught up in the tragedy surrounding us, I did not even think about recording my mom’s voice when we knew her situation was terminal. Yet, now that I am thinking so much about my mom’s voice, I realize how clever it is. I could choose to listen to my mom and she would speak directly to me. It would never replace our daily phone call, but would certainly fill part of the void. Just as important, my children would hear her.

While my mom’s mother, Grandma Ray, was alive, we made a point of asking her to tell her history. She lived into her 90s and certainly had substantial stories of life in Poland, her pious father, emigration to the US via Cuba, raising a family in Harlem, The Bronx, etc. It made sense to record her –her stories could add important personal reflection to a course in world history! I fondly recall my Grandma’s wise sayings, many taken from reading the Bible and Torah: “Who is rich? A person satisfied with what he has.” In Yiddish, “Besser be gornit (better than nothing).” I now think about the impact any saying or story would have if heard in her voice. Although my mom’s history couldn’t  measure up to her mom’s (thankfully), she certainly had plenty to say!

I am going to satisfy this newly discovered desire to hear my mom’s voice by watching and listening to my own wedding video. But, as I think about this, I must stand on the clichéd soapbox to encourage you, if it’s not too late, to record your mom’s (or dad’s or any significant older/ ill friend or relative) voice. Keep filming events and saving the film. Use your phone or computer to record a conversation. Tell your mom (or other person). I am not sure how my mom would have reacted, but I think she might have appreciated the idea of being heard eternally.