cold chicken at midnight
by Mel Bourne
I grew up having some
doubts about the propaganda doled out by my solicitous, well meaning
mother. Her perennial dictum stated that all of those odious vegetables
like Brussels sprouts, turnips, and cauliflower made us healthy. The
rule was immutable: if it tasted bad, it was good for you and we lived
with the guilt of the reverse of that silly maxim.
For those golden Saturday
lunches, before we headed off to the movies, we would generally have
a three decker club sandwich, for which my mom was justly proud. The
secret ingredient was the smoky thick sliced bacon. When we were given
the liberty of eating lunch at the neighborhood sandwich shop on our
way to the matinee, we were invariably tempted by the beguiling aroma
of those wonderfully subversive hamburgers and hot dogs. I was always
told to choose wholesome, no taste food, but my fragile willpower would
forsake me once I got a whiff of that spicy perfume wafting off the
greasy grill. I would surrender to my unholy taste buds and have half
of the first movie ruined fighting off my overwhelmingly sinful ways.
I betrayed my mother's rule for those delicious unhealthy tastes and
to this day that vice makes me feel guilty whenever I have a hamburger
or frank. I think that's why I love them so much.
Actually, my mother
was a good cook, and a superb baker whose only drawbacks were overcooking
meat and destroying fish. She was born on the lower east side in New
York City, but her culinary inheritance came from her family who emigrated
When I got home from
school on Friday afternoons, the myriad delectable scents coming from
the kitchen filled me with a drooling anticipation for the evening desert.
The favored place for our scout patrol meetings was always at our house
where we were treated to velvety hot chocolate served up with mounds
of scrumptious, feather light pastries, smothered with gobs of schlag,
(whipped cream). Deserts at our house were never considered first rate
unless they were hidden under those delicious white clouds of pure cholesterol.
On three our of four
Friday nights, we ate some form of poultry. My favorite was just roast
chicken. Any two cooks might use the same basic ingredients, but its
usually is the little obscure departures that come from years of experimentation
that make for a winner that one would never wish to change. I remember
joining my mother at the market where the chicken was killed the day
it was cooked. Whenever mom knew I was coming home for a weekend visit,
there would always be a cooked bird in the fridge waiting to be devoured
in the middle of the night.
Mel: Mel is a motion picture
production designer who resides in New York.
mother top of page next
contact us membership