My Ukrainian Grandmother
I love food. And I love to eat. And I love eating all different kinds of food. I’ll eat anything too – almost. The only things that I have trouble getting down my throat are oysters, and mannish water, which is Jamaican goat’s head soup (for those of you unfamiliar with the term). The eyeballs floating around get to me. I just can’t do it.
Other than that, my mouth is like an open trough, especially when I’m hungry, like after a workout, which is definitely NOT when a person should go to the grocery store or to the food market or to the Polish deli, which is precisely where I went the other day.
Polish food is one of my favourites, hands down. My grandmother on my father’s side was Ukrainian, which – as far as cooking is concerned – involves a lot of the same dishes.
Just as an aside, my grandfather was German. Originally, his last name was Fuchs. When his family immigrated to Canada, they quickly changed it to Fox – for obvious reasons. Sometimes, I imagine what my life would’ve been like had they kept it the same…sitting in my grade eleven English class while the teacher handed back our essays…calling out our names one after another…Amanda Fuchs…Jason De La Torre…ha ha ha ha…but that’s another very embarrassing story.
Back to my grandmother. I loved her cooking. She was always making stuff like cabbage rolls, perogies, potato pancakes, and borscht (beet soup). She also used to make this spicy macaroni-type dish. I think it was just butter, noodles, and pepper. I could’ve rolled around in it, it was so good.
Lucky for me, my grandmother passed her cooking skills on to my father, who is also a great cook. He never measures anything, but that’s what he says all the really great chefs do. Miraculously, things usually turn out.
Anyway, the other day – after doing a particularly hard spinning class together – my son and I were out doing some errands. Our last stop was at the tailor. Where I go – Stitch It – they can fix anything, even jeans where the crotch has been completely ripped open (and not along the seam either) from someone doing crazy karate/dance moves in them. These ladies can truly work magic with a sewing machine. I heart them.
Now, beside the tailor – two doors down in the same strip mall – is a Polish deli. Whenever we drive into the parking lot, I always say the same thing – “We should really go in there and check it out.” Because I was so starving on Friday, I finally did. “We’ll just look,” I said to my son. Ten minutes later, we came out with a ham and cheese sandwich, donuts, special Polish chocolate (the lady gave that to us for free), a container of cabbage rolls, and some borscht. What was supposed to be “just looking” turned into a feast.
When we got home, we nearly trampled each other running inside to get some bowls. “How are they?” my son asked. I was the first to dive into the cabbage rolls.
“Not as good as grandpa’s, but not bad. They seem a little more store-bought to me.”
He tried a forkful. “They do taste more store-bought, but that’s because they have more salt in them…which makes them friggin’ DELICIOUS.”
He was right, the cabbage rolls were damn good. And so was the soup. And so were the donuts. And the chocolate bars. And the ham and cheese sandwich. All of it.
Afterward, we sat on the couch – two Peter Griffin’s patting our bellies.
It’s a good thing I don’t have access to that kind of food every day. The cabbage rolls made me fart like a gassy zebra. And honestly, who wants that? Certainly not my husband.