Sunday, May 9, 2010

Playing The Amalfi's Card

I am over cooking. Sick of the planning, the shopping, the chopping, and even the eating that the preparation of a meal requires. It's a bit pathetic, I know, that in just the fourth week of this blog, I have already gotten lazy and whiny. Did Louisa May Alcott give up so easily? Yet, in truth, everyone gets fed up, and I take comfort in the fact that Jeanne got this way too –a lot.

I may have created a cooking blog dedicated to my mother's culinary skills, yet we hardly lived in June Cleaver’s home with nourishing home-cooked meals delivered to the table every night at promptly 6pm. Many nights, Mom would come home and announce, “I just can’t deal.”

That’s when she would play what I have come to call The Amalfi’s Card. Amalfi’s was originally the local Italian restaurant in my hometown, one that served decent pizza and a killer Chicken Parmesan Wedge(that's a hero sandwich to those non-Briarcliff folk). Eventually, Amalfi’s evolved into a rather elegant spot with elaborate pasta dishes and an extensive wine list. But in the early days, it was just a pizza place, and we ate there often. So often, in fact, that Jeanne attended the owner’s wedding. How’s that for loyalty?

Even Gert, my grandmother, had her own version of the Amalfi’s card. At around 5pm – just as the news was coming on— Gert would put down her glass of beer, halt her ongoing game of Solitaire, and say, “Kids, get me my purse.” After determining that the pile of single dollar bills and infrequent tens was more than enough, she would make it official: “Jeanne, we are going out. My treat.” In my memory, her proclamations elicited a round of applause, but that might simply be a dramatic flourish of the mind.

I loved those nights, piling into the car as the fading sun lit our path and the quiet of a regular weeknight settled around us. They are some of my favorite moments.

So, while I normally would feel guilty about this refusal to take part in a basic life chore, this Mother’s Day I have decided to give up on that useless emotion. Let’s celebrate life’s moments of small, spontaneous abandon.



Pick up phone.
Dial delivery.

Play your Amalfi’s card, damnit!


  1. I don't remember your mom as being a big fan of guilt. And her ability to say "I just can't deal" in the way she did - as just a fact and no more is a life recipe as valuable as any in your box.

    Happy mother's day to you, and to your mom who resides in so many of our hearts.

    And a special HMD to Gert.

  2. The idea of going out to buy ingredients never appealed to me and I never want to cook. If I do, it's more of an occasion like a birthday. But tonight I'm playing the Amalfi card tonight in the name of Jeanne.

  3. I can picture the whole scene at your house, but I also remember the great summer contributions your mom made for swim team. I still make her tortelini salad... So as the warm weather approaches and I take out my wrinkeled scrap paper Jeanne scribbled her receipe on, I will have a cocktail and toast one great lady and a great friend!

  4. Oh Sweet Lorraine, That recipe is coming as soon as i feel it's warm enough for a swim meet!!! Love you.

  5. Go Jen, Have a nice glass of wine or a beer along with your Amalfi's card. You gotta do it right!

  6. I love your blog!
    I feel like I was right there with everything you described....
    I play the Amalfi's card a lot and to know Jeanne did too puts a big smile on my face.
    Love you,


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