I love my grandmother…BUT

March 25, 2010

So, the best pizza in Brooklyn can be found at L&B Spumoni Gardens in Bensonhurst – if you ask me.  I was performing in a show with the Ryan Repertory Company all weekend and it’s conveniently located in the vicinity of L&B.  On Sunday, my family from Long Island made the trip out to Brooklyn for the show, but also for a slice of pizza.

The pizza is divine because it’s unique.  Instead of sauce and then cheese layered on top of the dough, its the opposite (!), cheese THEN sauce.  The dough is completely covered with cheese (a plus) rather than it just being a sprinkle of shredded mozzarella and then the sauce just sits a top- floating and waiting to be slurped up.  Thanks to my parents roots in Brooklyn, I’ve been eating this pizza all my life.   Its basically the reason I moved to Brooklyn.  I’ve also introduced these slices to countless “Non L&Bers” over the course of my life- my husband being one of them.  There’s just nothing better than being in the car, and getting a little hungry and him saying, “You up for some L&B?”

Aside from delish pizza, L& B Spumoni Gardens also has spumoni, a sandwich counter and a sit down restaurant that isn’t half bad either.  I tend to enjoy the “Chicken Marie” dish for obvious reasons and the antipasto.  The place is typically crowded and since it has picnic tables outside for the masses to enjoy their slices it’s a “must do” on the first few spring weekends.  This weekend was definitely a rebirth for L&B as it was finally nice enough to sit outside and enjoy a slice and spumoni.

Ok, so what’s my problem with my grandmother, right?  I mean, “Marie how could you have a post about your grandmother?  Are you that insensitive?”

The answers are “I have to write about this because it’s the key to so much overweighted-ness” and “Yes”.  Grandmother Nora doesn’t have a computer, and probably won’t see this blog – but I’ve got to call her out on principle and to give the rest of us a fighting chance against Food Pushers (who often come in the form of well-meaning grandmothers).

In order for you to fully understand the magnitude of Grandmother Nora’s presence – yes she wants to be called “Grandmother” not “Grandma” – I have to clue you in to a bit of her character.  Well, she IS a character.  Larger than life, always outspoken and the life of the party.  Last time we were together at L&B she was accosting Tony Disco while he was there giving autographs.  “Tony, TONY, do you know my son BOBBY?”  Good grief!  My dad, Bob(by), was mortified and yet totally into it at the same time.  I guess after 60+ years of her accosting celebrities in his presence, he gave in eventually and decided to go for the ride.  Grandmother is also known for her biting commentary.  Ran always tells a story that even after he and I were living together, Grandmother still called him my “friend” as in, “You know Marie, you’re FRIEND didn’t come say hi to me.”  The poor guy was scared of her!  But after that comment, he never neglected to say hi to Grandmother again.  Oh and of course I can’t forget the time Grandmother came to see me in a production of the Vagina Monologues at Muhlenberg College.  She happened to attend the one performance that had a talk back afterward.  Seated in the front row, she exclaimed, “You forgot the ‘Oh my god, OH MY GOD'” in reference to the monologue about different types of orgasms.  I exclaimed “Oh my god” as I sank into my chair with embarrassment.  But then it soon turned to pride that my grandmother was hip enough to come see Vag Mons and open enough to make declarations at the talk back.  Bottom line, she embarrasses you but makes you laugh and of course, she means well.

Alright, cut back to L&B, all of us are sitting around the table eating a slice.  “Did you have enough?”  “Save a slice for Linda!” “What about Bobby?  What’s he gonna eat?”

We had 2 pizzas and more food coming.  Nobody starved, I can assure you.  When the eggplant parmigiana hit the table, Grandmother started in with me, “Marie don’t you want some?”  “Aren’t you gonna have some eggplant?”  “Have this eggplant?”  I kept saying, NO THANKS.  But it fell on deaf ears.  Naturally, Grandmother started in with someone else then.  First my uncle, then my dad – she was relentless.  She kept exclaiming, “Well we can’t just LEAVE IT??!!!??”   Why not?  Why can’t we just leave that 200 calorie portion of eggplant on the dish?  Who will know/care/report us to the Italian police?  I finally answered her, “Grandmother, we CAN leave it.  No one is going to starve.”  It was like I speaking a foreign language.  Oh well.

…The eggplant sat..UNTIL…finally Bob picked it up, put it on his plate, and dove in.

I felt compelled to say something, and let’s face it, talking to pretty much anyone about the food their eating is like walking in a mine field.

“Dad, you don’t have to eat that if you don’t want to.”

He ate.

I don’t have a quippy response to that.  All I can say is, for some reason, when you’re told over and over again that it’s NOT okay to leave a little food on your plate – you start to believe it.  And then you will just eat it even if you are full.  It’s like its on the plate friggin staring at you saying, “Why not eat me?”  instead of “Why eat me?”

Not sure if this is a triumph over food?  Sounds more like the eggplant had a triumph over the Ingrisanos.  Actually, I will count it as a triumph, becuase at least I wasn’t the one eating that damn eggplant.  Though it looked so good.

3 Responses to “I love my grandmother…BUT”

  1. Abby said

    It is so hard to leave food on the plate. I always end up feeling guilty that somehow, somewhere, I’m taking food from someone else’s mouth. But then I come back to reality and ask “do I need that food?” The answer is always no. I don’t need the food, or the calories, especially if I’m not hungry. Hard to reconcile the ethics of a half-empty plate, but there you have it.

  2. robin neary gemignani said

    I always take the “leftovers” home from restaurants and Anthony always laughs at me- he should laugh. Why am I compelled to take food home?

  3. […] last week there was a bit of shock and horror from my Grandmother (for more about Grandmother Nora, click here).   She really couldn’t understand why I had done it.  She made all this delicious food […]

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