Saturday, May 22, 2010

Yeah, I'm sick of politics too. Lets discuss my ancestors

I'm becoming boring around here.  The world is going to hell in a handbasket, but that's no reason for me to feel depressed, is it?

So let's switch the discussion to my female predecessor's lawless ways with neighborhood greenery.  Bubbe, for example, used to scour the neighborhood in search of sorrel, which I understand is a weed.  So you could say bubbe was weeding her neighbor's gardens without permission.

I never saw her picking the stuff, but she would leave the house with an empty paper sack and return with a sack full of sorrel.  With this she made a cold soup called shchav, which nobody liked.  It wasn't vile, it just wasn't that good, as it tasted like soup made of weeds.  Nobody much liked it but we all ate a moderate amount when it was served in order to spare ourselves the inevitable criticism of our eating habits.  I guess bubbe was ahead of her time in championing locally grown food.  Or weeds.

What is it about these ethnic foods that makes people so irrational?  Some relatives of mine who have Swedish relatives are forced to eat lutefisk, which unlike sorrel soup really is vile.  For openers, it's made with lye, and it's all  downhill from there.  I wouldn't even want to be in the same room with it.

Mother, on the other hand, only liked flowers.  In the neighborhood I grew up in, there were alleys behind every row of  houses.  This was where the garbage cans lived, right next to the detached garage at the very rear of the property.   These alleys were only scenic if you enjoyed looking at garages and garbage cans, but mother loved to stroll down them.   Neglected and unloved plants lived alongside these garages, some of them interesting or valuable.  Mother had her own paper sack as well as a trowel, and she helped herself to some of these plants.  Her justification for this was that no-one wanted them anyway or they would have planted them somewhere else.

So far as I know, she was never discovered, and she had some interesting and beautiful plants in her garden, a win-win proposition as far as she was concerned.


Anonymous said...

Love green soup with sorrel!
It's also called "green borsch" (no "T", pleese), and it's delicious chilled for lunch on hot summer days.

"Schav", is probably a shortened word "schAvel" - which is a Russian name for sorrel.

Ah, I have been looking for it on every farmers market...for some reason people would rather buy tasteless spinach, but not delicately tart, fresh, crunchy sorrel - and so the sellers never bring it, even if they have it growing in their farms...

airforcewife said...

I love your family. Truly.

As far as vile cuisine goes, though, the stuff my Mother-in-Law made is really the worst you can imagine. I'm not going to blanket accuse all Russian cuisine of being frightful, but she put raisins in garlic and onion butter spread. A bad cook is a bad cook in any nationality.

My grandmother routinely weeds other people's gardens. She just can't help herself. When my husband and I got married she stopped before entering the church to pull some weeds out of the church flower bed. Oh, did I mention my Grandmother is 93? And still weeding other people's gardens?

My grandmother is a terrible cook as well, though. I think she is very typical of her generation in that she can't bear to throw anything away, so she likes to label things "goulash", which really means "everything in my frig, some of which may be spoiled."

miriam said...

Tat: Check for sorrel at a lawn near you.

Anonymous said...

Miriam: I live in Brooklyn, remember? We have everything growing on our lawns: dog poop, broken bottles, rolls of toilet tissue thrown last Halloween - except sorrel.

AFW: there is nothing in Russian cuisine resembling butter and onion garlic spread (thank god). By adding raisins to it, I think, your MILF was just trying to imitate the local cooking, with its "chocolate-dipped pretzels", jello puddings and other atrocities.

airforcewife said...

Tat, that made me laugh so hard I snorted!

Although I think my MIL shares some of my Grandmother's "Put everything in so nothing is wasted" issues.

She put raisins in the crab salad once, too; but that was never repeated as my Step-FIL actually staged a revolt (and he would put up with a lot, food wise, having lived through WWII and post-war Berlin).

Anonymous said...


when I was in 8th grade and in charge of family dinner (mom sometimes worked late), I decided to enliven the boring beef-and-potatoes stew which I was cooking per my mother's instruction by adding a handful of black currants at the end.
The dish turned lovely purple ink color, including potatoes (but it was not bad, taste-wise! I swear it wasn't!)
However, my father was so displeased, I remembered for many years not to challenge his sense of culinary adventure.

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Anonymous said...

A man is only as good as what he loves.

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Anonymous said...

Maybe I`ll be Captain Obvious, but... it's only few days to New Year last, so let's be happy!