“If you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.” – Mother Teresa
That quote inspired this post which will appear in my cook book full of recipes from my friends and family as well as my personal creations, with an emphasis on easy and healthy and quick….but still not compromising FLAVOR.
I was raised around people who knew how to cook and loved creating wonderful meals and sharing delicious moments making lasting memories.
Mom made the best tacos and pork chops with apple sauce and tuna patties with potato cakes. I miss her and her meals.
Her chicken fried chicken livers were always great and the only organ meat I would and will eat to this day. Her meatloaves were always delicious and I wish I knew which recipe she used. I hope I can retrack what she did though I think she put her twist to the recipe on the Quaker Oats box, adding extra garlic and barbecue sauce to the top.
She is alive still at 82 years young and I remember meals I made for her and which ones she loved the most and the smile in her eyes when I would pick a dish I knew she loved or create a unique recipes and name it after her like some cinnamon rolls I made up called “Good Morning Ray of Sunshine Cinnamon Rolls.”
My dad loved delis and I knew where they all were as a kid: Galasso’s, who ended up catering my wedding in 1986, to Demicelli’s-dad knew them all intimately.
Oftentimes we would spread deli sandwich fixin’s on the table along with the biggest box of Stella D’oro cookies and dad would somehow find spumoni ice cream to top it off.
He passed away a year ago but still lives in every pot of marinara and whispers to me urging me to not overcook the pasta and keep it al dente.
As in the Le Pore tradition of having a passion for cooking, entertaining, hospitality and people- one of the things dad gave me was a love of cooking and he encouraged it and my music…that’s a whole other story though.
He taught me to make his father’s lasagna recipe, when I was in my teens. I used to make two huge ones at my birthday parties, and invite my friends in my neighborhood and tell them NOT TO BRING GIFTS and JUST ENJOY THEMSELVES! Then I would play on my Fender Rhodes Stage Piano playing songs I wrote and other popular tunes with other musician friends and family. Stellar memories those are.
Alberto Le Pore who was a chef, was from Buenes Aires, Argentina. I only saw him twice in my life-once when I was nine-years-old when he gave me $20-which was like $100 in the late 60’s-and the last time in his mansion in Albuquerque, NM, at his funeral.
He was a great chef, according to the stories my parents told me through the years. I wish I could have known more of him, along with my mother’s mother Ruby Hart who baked up the tallest, fluffiest homemade bread and rolls, according to legend.
I remember my Nanny, who lived with us, whipping up cream puffs and her angel food cake, lemon cake, or zucchini with marinara…she was the master of making the most of the least and I learned a lot from her. She is also not here but always with me in spirit, especially when I bake custard in a baine marie like her French mother did, or make cream puffs like she taught me in 6th grade Catholic school, or bake an angel food cake.
When I was married to the rocket scientist, who still is a rocket scientist, but is not married to a nice lady, I had parties for 40 and 50 people and made them a labor of love that I still remember fondly. I hope one day my sister and brothers remember too one day and remember what and who matters in this world.
Food is more than sustenence but when made and given & shared with love creates indelible memories that are etched in your memory for all time.
I hope you enjoyed traveling down memory lane with me and recounting a few of my culinary highlights, though there are many more.
The dishes we were raised on become our culinary heritage that we draw on and embellish as we grow older.
When was the last time you cooked for someone?
Who was it and what did you make?
Written by Paulette Le Pore Motzko
Copyright December 2013
Photography by Nick F. Belman
Digital Photo Editing by Paulette Le Pore Motzko