Lessons From My Mother

Years ago while living in Chicago suburbs, I met a young woman named Louise Rowley (pronounced Ro-lee) from Ireland.* She was visiting American cousins and she and I hit it off and we started a friendship while she was in the states. One night, on our first foray into the city itself, while down on Rush Street we went into the ladies’ room and from my stall I shouted, “Louise! Don’t sit on the seat!” She shouted back, “Oh my God! My Mom said the same thing!” Across the “pond” two mothers who had never met gave their daughters the same advice. It got me to thinking…

As I just turned 55, I am thinking about all the little things she taught me. You know, those small, and seemingly insignificant things, that shape the way we do some everyday things. As I began to compile this list in my head, I giggled frequently, and I hope you do too. Some of these will hopefully make you think of your own Mom because some are universal, as illustrated by the anecdote with Louise. If you know my Mom, I hope you read these with her voice and facial expressions in your mind.

On Dining Out

Family Meal
Bryan Voltaggio’s Fried Chicken
  • Choose something from the menu that you can’t get at home.
  • If you aren’t sure which fork to use, look at everyone else.
  • Always put your napkin in your lap.
  • Don’t be rude to the waitress, it’s rarely her fault.
  • Chicken Soup is Jewish Penicillin and Wonton Soup is Chinese Penicillin. They will both make you feel better.
  • Don’t dine with people who aggravate you. You will only end up with heartburn.
  • Always tip well. Waitresses work their asses off (Mom & I were both waitresses).

On Restrooms

  • Don’t sit on the seat! You might catch something!
  • Never pass up an opportunity to pee.
  • Hospital restrooms are the filthiest because all the people in there are sick. Don’t go unless you can’t hold it!
  • Always wash your hands.

On Cooking

Build a flavor ladder when you cook.
These are the prepped ingredients. from Top left: Pecorino Romano, juice of one lemon, Anchovy Paste, zest of one lemon, garlic mashed into a paste, finely diced shallot
  • This is what’s for dinner. Like it or lump it.
  • This is not a restaurant; you will eat what’s put in front of you.
  • Don’t overwork your pie crust. It’ll end up being tough.
  • Use your leftovers. There are people starving in China.
  • If you overcook your meat it will be as tough as a hockey puck.
  • The Hotaling Farm has the best corn.
  • Shop local for the best produce. Farm stands are great.
  • If you don’t cook, your kitchen will always be clean.
  • The best thing to make for dinner is reservations.

On Clothing

  • Always wear clean underwear. You might be in an accident.
  • Always WEAR underwear!
  • Pantyhose suck. Stockings sucked too, but if you got a run in ONE leg, you didn’t have to throw out both.
  • Never tuck in your shirt because your ass is too big for that.
  • If you wear something too tight you may end up looking like a sausage stuffed into a casing.
  • Girdles are awful, but they work.
  • I have a uniform – black and white – it goes with everything and is almost always appropriate.
  • Don’t wear red to a funeral. The only acceptable colors are black, navy, or grey.
  • Diamonds are a girl’s best friend. You can never have too much bling!
  • A lady never takes her shoes off in public. Never.

On Life

  • Anything boys can do, girls can do better.
  • No one is going to help you but you.
  • Suck it up!
  • Quit your belly achin’!
  • Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something because you are a girl. Girls can do anything!
  • You never know what you are going to see on a road trip.
  • People will do just about anything if no one is looking.
  • Dance every chance you get.
  • Sing in the car.
  • If someone doesn’t have a sense of humor, get away from them. They probably suck.
  • Honesty is the best policy, even if it hurts someone’s feelings. They’ll thank you later.
  • Stand up straight and don’t “plop” yourself on the couch. Sit like a lady.
  • If you keep your legs crossed you can’t get into trouble.
  • If it’s not half off, it’s not on sale.
  • Share, Share. That’s fair.
  • SPS – Self Praise Stinks
  • Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one and they all stink.

If you have been following along for a while now, you’ll notice that I have had a serious case of writer’s block due to some major life changes. Life changes also mean that this site is changing. It will be more about life, travel, AND YES, FOOD. I hope you like the new design so far.

Stay tuned for the “Best Things I Ate” post coming soon. It really won’t be what you think this year.

In case you are wondering, after our trip to Egypt this past spring (you can read about it here and here and here) I decided to join the travel industry. I figured if I am going to travel, I want a kickback! You will see more posts on Facebook and “the ‘Gram” about travel and the food I enjoy while out in the wide world. DO give me a holler if you need to plan a trip. I’d love to help you make some memories!

A little help here:

*I have since lost track of Louise. We met before the age of internet (1986), Facebook, and even cell phones. She grew up in County Kildare at Suncroft the Curragh. I’d love to reconnect with her if any of you readers have connections there!