ma pista is a bit of a multi-tasker. she made a kazillion-course meal, only once in awhile ignoring conversation to say aloud to herself: "okay. 16 tablespoons of butter." i really liked her shirt. it was quite risque. here she tends to the potatoes, etc.
christmas eve was an offer i couldn't refuse: upward of 40 people, snacky food that included beer & cheese soup, and sherbert and ginger ale slush at a favorite aunt and uncle's home in rochester. i mean, we'd have gone anyway, but i was actually looking forward to it the way one is supposed to look forward to a holiday. giddy. it was my carrot, dangling. i loved the idea of this loud room full of personality and food and young cousins zipping around.
briefly: my aunt j, the host, married my high school track coach, a corny jokester i still call mr. m-----. my aunt's son, my cousin drewcifer, and i are pretty close. like i was his confirmation sponsor [joke's on him] and i love that little long-lashed, curly haired nerd more than i love about 98 percent of the rest of the people i know. [even when he was in high school, he got on my case about bouncing checks.] he was a horrible kindergartener who waited for my bus on the playground at st. pius, then chased me into the elementary school. every. single. day.
i could write an essay on drewcifer, and it would certainly include the time i woke up in his st. paul apartment after barfing up breakfast food from mickey's diner and leinie's honey weiss from some sort of crazy young professionals meeting he'd dragged me to. then we stole wifi from his neighbors. he took me to a john mayer concert that didn't suck at all and he wears dress shoes. sometimes he calls me and holds the phone up to his computer and makes me listen to something like the song "i kissed a girl." now he is in grad school in DC. and, actually, today is his 25th birthday.
this proved to be as much fun as i'd hoped: i have a cousin with a word tattoo'd down the length of his arm, but i couldn't read the word; my uncle mr. m----- showed me a youtube video of shadow puppets, AND has a photo of our track team after winning a meet and holding a trophy in 1994; two junior high-aged cousins explained to me why e-mail is obsolete; another cousin broke the headlights on her car, and searched desperately for a needle nosed pliers to fix it. drewcifer asked me to be his life coach and showed me photo albums where his ears are like satellite dishes attached to a pea head.
eventually chuck and i left, and went to my parents house, where, in the time since thanksgiving, they have turned the downstairs bedroom into a proper guest room, instead of something akin to a show box with a 100 watt bulb stuck to light it. it's goldish hued in a very disco-fabulous way that i really like. kind of like the regal beagle. plus, there is a bed instead of a giant air mattress.
chuck fell asleep three minutes later.
my dad woke me in the morning. early. then he woke me again. i finally woke with my mom standing at the foot of the bed, staring intently at my face:
no "good morning" no "hello suzie-Q" she simply said: "DO YOU WANT ME TO DISH YOU UP SOME HASH AND EGGS!???!!"
i came into the kitchen and chuck was enjoying coffee [which we brought along to avoid a 4-year-old frozen batch of folger's crystals my mom keeps in the freeze] and conversation with these sleep breakers. goodie good, much? i think so. like a magician, he did this thing where he distracted my parents from looking in my direction while i drank coffee and grew accustomed to the daylight hours. god love him.
brother pista, sister-in-law pista and my niece mel, and my aunt p, another fantastic sort who, when i tell a joke, chuckles in this great way and says "oh, chris ..." showed up when i was in the shower.
presents: we made out like bandits. there is something to be said for having a hobby [cooking] and a blog [blahblahblahler.blogspot.com] and a brother who reads it [hi, brother pista!] i got a mixing bowl filled with three or four artisan cheeses and other gourmet foods, a canister filled with cookies!, a cute bottle for olive oil, i also got a pretty elaborate food processor and a mint scarf. i got a digital photo frame that i'm going to exchange for something wii related because it's not christmas unless i'm returning something, and this is the only option.
i probably told pa pista i wouldn't post this photo of him in his new hat. but i think it is a cute photo. and he doesn't read this site. so ... do the math.
chuck plays with a camera during a down moment of present-opening.
the grandparents pista got mel a digital camera. my favorite part of the day was when she disappeared into the bathroom with the camera and two webkinz and came back out like 10 minutes later. sister-in-law pista checked the footage, and found no strange "webkinz in the bathtub" photos. still, pretty funny. almost as funny as this look she's giving me. ME! the person who taught her how to take self-portraits. sheesh.
ma and pa pista recently returned from a religious journey to italy where they licked pebbles kicked by the pope and prayed to saints they'd not yet heard of. this pilgramage has turned my mom into a bit of an italianophile.
dinner, she promised, was going to be a four-hour affair.
"i don't know if i have four hours," my aunt p said when i warned her.
i nodded solemnly.
it started with an antipasto. crostini with artichoke and cheese:
on a scale of 1-5, 5 being mint, i give this a solid 5. we each received two toasts. yum!
the next course was pasta carbonara:
i'm going to give this another solid five. it had pruciutto in it. dee-lish.
then came a very, very, very extraneous course: lasagna.
i thought this was a pretty solid five as well. although, in retrospect, i didn't need lasagna on top of everything else that rolled in my path. i'd either have eliminated this phase or made it the finale.
then came the main course:
okay. left to right: pickled asparagus with pruciutto, salad and a four-inch think wedge of pork. i added the diced potatoes later.
seriously. that is a lot of meat.
there were also things. like olives.
and then, dessert. of course, tiramisu.
this was an insane meal. we drove back to duluth and immediately went to bed at 8:30 p.m. and didn't touch the food again. well, until i woke up at 11 p.m. and ripped through the chocolate chip cookies and then fell asleep again.
i plan on feeling normal again in 2009.