Asparagus and red pepper sauce for pasta
Well, I survived another mother’s day lunch shift as a waitress. Nine hours with no break at all
, literally not one second to sit down. I’ll pause for a moment so that you can shed a small tear for my plight. Aw, it’s not so bad. This is a fairly typical shift for the restaurant business, and it certainly suits me better than a job at which you can’t do anything but sit! I like the non-stop pace, I like being active, I enjoy talking to people. But it was tiring, and by the end of the day I stood in the middle of the restaurant yelling, “I’M A MOTHER TOO, DAMMIT! SOMEBODY HAD BETTER BUY ME A GLASS OF WINE RIGHT NOW!!” And when I walked Isaac to school this morning, and joined a group of parents talking about their mother’s day celebrations, I said, “I spent nine hours serving mothers lunch, and let me tell you, mothers are horrible
people.” Heh heh, I can say that, because I am a mother! I’m kidding once again, of course. Mothers are wonderful people, each and every one of them. But mother’s day is widely recognized in the restaurant business as a particularly difficult day. You walk away from it bewildered by just now needy everybody is. Why is this? You ask yourself, as you walk home on tired feet. Why do people seem so needy on mother’s day? Maybe it’s because mothers are as needy as everyone else, but we have to suppress that neediness 364 days of the year, and on the one day we’re told by the media and the greeting card companies that somebody should take care of us, we’re going to squeeze every drop of sympathy and attention we can get. Because mothering, though it is a gratifying and demanding job, is not a very well-rewarded job in the usual ways that jobs are considered rewarding. We have no pay, no awards, no performance-reviews, no gold stars, no bonuses, no free gifts, no paid vacations, no benefits, no gala luncheons. We do have people who don’t listen when we talk to them, who keep us up all night when they’re sick, who expect us to feed them even when we’re
sick, who act embarrassed when we talk to them in front of their friends, who shudder visibly when we try to feed them delicious foods that we’ve worked on for hours
. And most of the time, that’s fine. Isaac has had some sort of stomach virus the last few days, and I haven’t gotten a lot of sleep, but I’ve been thinking that it’s sort of perfect for mother’s day weekend, because it makes you realize how good it feels to be needed by someone, to actually make somebody feel better if you rub their back or cuddle with them, to love someone so much that you’re always glad to hear them call your name, even at 3 in the morning (and 4 in the morning, and 6 in the morning…). So if a mother wants to fuss a little when her family takes her out, and be sure the meal is exactly as she likes it, and that her water has precisely the right number of ice cubes and lemon slices, more power to her!! If she wants to send something back because it’s not just the way she ordered it, that’s fine–she should have the perfect meal. If she wants proof that somebody is actually listening to her, even if it’s a stranger in an apron and stupid white shoes, I’m okay with that.
For mother’s day Isaac gave me a hand-print flower glued into a flowerpot made of brown construction paper. It was quite a big flowerpot, and I believe he was supposed to fill the whole thing with a poem. In his usual wise and simple way, he wrote, “I love my mom because she’s my mom.” And that sort of says it all. It defies rational expectation, but it’s true–we love our moms because they’re our moms. Because in reality all moms aren’t wonderful people, and no mom is always wonderful, but children have a remarkably elastic and forgiving sort of love, and most of the time, that’s reward enough.
Both of my boys actually liked this meal! I made long tube-shaped pasta called perciatelli. Like spaghetti, but with a hole in it. I wanted to make a brothy sauce to go with it, so I made this concoction of asparagus, roasted red peppers, olives and capers. It’s got white wine and lots of herbs, and a little bit of tomatoes. The boys used the pasta like a straw to suck up the broth, but they ate all the vegetables as well, miracle of miracles.
Here’s Goody Mob with Soul Food
Looking to be one of dem days
When Momma ain’t cooking
Everybody’s out hunting with tha family
Looking for a little soul food
2 T olive oil
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t red pepper flakes (or to taste)
2 bay leaves
1 t oregano
1 t thyme
1 t basil
1 t sage
2 t rosemary
(I used dried herbs, because it’s May, but if you have fresh, by all means add them! I’d add the basil at the very end, if I had fresh, and I’d add lots of it!)
1/2 cup white wine
1 t raw or brown sugar
1/3 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
2 t capers, chopped
1 red pepper, roasted, peeled, seeded and very finely chopped
1 cup diced tomatoes (Canned or fresh)
1 cup asparagus, finely chopped
1 T butter
1 t balsamic vinegar
salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper
Warm the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the bay leaves and pepper flakes, the shallot and the garlic. Cook till the shallot and garlic start to brown. Add the herbs, stir and cook for half a minute, then add the wine and sugar. Cook to reduce to a syrup. Add the olives and capers. Cook and stir. Add the pepper and tomatoes, stir and cook, breaking everything up with your spoon or stirrer as you go. Add about 1/2 cup of water, and keep cooking until the pan is nearly dry. Add about a cup of water and the asparagus. Cook until the asparagus is tender-crisp. The mixture should be nice and brothy, so add a bit more water if it’s too dry.
Stir in the butter and balsamic, the salt and pepper. Serve over pasta or rice, with a good crusty bread to sop up all the good broth.