My uncle said the prayers, amidst a chorus of laughter. "Bless us oh Lord, for that which we are about to eat, even though we don't know how we're going to do it, and it's all very strange, but thank you for it, even if it gives us indigestion. Also, give it to the poor people who have none, though not this particular combination, because even if they're hungry, they may not eat it. Amen."
And then, "So, what do I do, put the roasted peppers on the pancakes? Do I put the maple syrup on the rapini? I'm confused, Mare. You're going to have to explain this to me." My uncle, Two-Ten Jimmy, will never be the same, I don't think.
It all started Sunday night. There we were, sitting in Perkins on that that evening, comforted by the knowledge that though the menu was a laminated list of cholesterol and fat, at least the coffee was bottomless, and an indoor cigarette was available. Sometimes, on a Sunday night in February, there's just nothing to do but find a place that will let you stay forever, then grab a mug and hunker down.
A picture of a stack of pancakes reminded me that Shrove Tuesday was coming up. God, Pancake Tuesday. Honestly, I don't think I've had a pancake in 20 years, so really, I have no idea what made me say brightly to the assorted mix of cousins and sibling around me, "We should totally have pancakes on Tuesday! You want to come back here? Breakfast 24 hours a day!" What! What was I thinking?!
"Why don't we just make them instead?" said my enterprising uni-student cousin, The Jock. Enterprising indeed. I blame the result entirely on her.
"Mother," I said, on Tuesday morning. "We're having pancakes for dinner tonight."
"I'm sorry?" she said, understandably. My mother is deafer than I am.
"WE'RE HAVING. PANCAKES. FOR DINNER!" I spoke up slightly, so she could hear me.
"I HEARD YOU! WHY? WHY ARE WE HAVING PANCAKES FOR DINNER? I'VE GOT RAPINI READY!" she screamed at me, also understandably. Let's remember my broken ears, poppets.
"IT'S PAN- it's Pancake Tuesday. C'mon, it'll be fun. And The Jock will come to help, and Two-Ten Jimmy and The Jock's boyfriend and and and..."
"What am I going to do with the rapini? Can you put rapini on pancakes?!"
"Mother, they'll hold until tomorrow, alright? Just... leave it to me. It'll be fine."
"Fine, fine. It's on your head, though. Just remember that. You're doing it all yourself."
I shook my head, and dismissed the last statement. When has my mother ever let me do something as important as dinner by myself? This is Mare's house, my beauties, where food is life, and life is food, and is that all you're going to eat?!"
That evening, as planned, my cousin came over and together, we made breakfast for eight. We worked well together, sweating over a stove and feeling very accomplished and original with our mangia-cake -breakfast-for-dinner idea. In some kind of flapjack frenzy, The Jock made several stacks high enough to feed the average North American family for a week, and then wondered if it would be enough. It was - barely. (We're Italian, ok? We don't fool around with quantity.)
She also worked some kind of magic with crisp apples and brown sugar that ended up becoming a bowl of gooey happiness and love. I went whole hog with a few dozen rashers of bacon, and introduced a kitchen full of wops to the English wonder of baked beans. Because we were both engrossed in our own tasks, we didn't really pay much mind to my mother's bustling around us. Why? Why don't I learn to pay attention to these things? You think you can trust your own mother, but...
Anyway, at the end of it all, along with the bacon and the pancakes and the stewed apples, and the beans, there were bowls of pineapple bits, bottles of maple syrup, summer jam... oh, poppets, the table was absolutely groaning with the sheer amount of each item. There was just barely enough room for my mother to sneak in a pot of steamed rapini, a platter full of roasted peppers, and an entire loaf of bread. And does my father's red wine go with pancakes? Yes, well, it does now, poppets.
Breakfast for dinner, my lovelies. Breakfast for dinner and a table full of love.
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