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Day Ten: Happy (Insert Special Occasion Here)!

Today’s Prompt: Tell us something about your favorite childhood meal — the one that was always a treat, that meant “celebration,” or that comforted you and has deep roots in your memory.

Free free to focus on any aspect of the meal, from the food you ate to the people who were there to the event it marked.

Today’s twist: Tell the story in your own distinct voice.

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dining room 1

The Bread & Butter Mystery

Sundays were always my favorite day of the week. After church got out (about 12:00) we’d head over to my paternal grandparents’ house for dinner. By then my brother and I would be hungry, and since dinner was never quite ready, Grandma PI (as we called her) would always have snacks around. My brother loved cookies. I preferred bread and butter.

Now this was a real mystery to my folks as I NEVER asked for bread and butter at home. At first they thought it was because Grandma was in the habit of sprinkling sugar on it. So she stopped to see what would happen. I don’t know if I questioned that or not, I was all of six at the time, but it didn’t deter me from wanting bread and butter.

It was my Papa who finally figured it out. It was the BUTTER I was addicted to. We used margarine at home, and it just didn’t taste quite the same as good old regular salted butter! It was quite a revelation.

Though those Sundays could be rife with family dysfunction, they were like a warm blanket for me. Everyone showed up for dinner. Aunts, uncles, cousins… Squeezing us all into Grandma’s tiny dining room around a huge wooden table that pert near filled up the whole room was quite a feat. I think that table is one of the reasons I’ve always loved Neil Diamond’s song Morningside. It reminds me of that family gathered there at the table.

I can recall clearly my most memorable meal around that table. My Papa was Italian. He was my dad’s stepfather. Tommy Piazza was his name. Boy how he could regal you with stories of the Italian mob (most of which I didn’t understand until later in life). He had gotten involved with them as a young man but wanted “out” when he met my Grandmother who needed to get her children back from a state orphanage. Dad’s father had walked out on her one day, and the kids were taken away until she could provide a home for them. It created all kinds of issues for Tommy with the mob.

Being Italian, Papa was one hell of a great cook. One of his specialties was big, flat dumplings about 2″ x 3″ called Slippers. They were used in chicken soup. Papa used all kinds of seasonings in those suckers. They were just yummy, and I’ve never tasted the like of them since he passed away.

This day we were all sitting at table having dished up our food from this enormous pot he used. We’d just said Grace and begun to eat when someone (can’t remember who it was after all these years) hollered, “Stop! Don’t eat anything!” I remember looking down at my plate, as did everyone else, and finding some kind of black spice “crawling” all over my Slippers. Papa hurried into the kitchen to check a bottle of spice he would add right at the end when they were done cooking, and sure enough, the bottle was filled with tiny black bugs burrowing down through the spice. The whole bloomin’ pot of dumplings went in the trash that day.

Funny, I don’t remember what we ended up doing for dinner. But I didn’t really care. I’d already had my bread and butter!