Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Cooking or Baking (01/04/07)
TITLE: The Choice
By Paul Potenza
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I have been told that the mark of a good writer is that someone could name ANY subject and that the raconteur could do a defining piece about it.
I watched the late, great Lewis Grizzard do that about a "southern mud puddle" of all things.
I'd like to try that with tonight's subject.
You all know what the subject is so I won't name my piece until the end. Also, you need to know that my "take" in this is humorous so please don't take offense.
It is 1962.
I was a "Boomer" growing up in a time that I didn't understand primarily because I got a lot of mixed signals. Just as a for instance, my Mom & Pop told me that if I took ONE PUFF of a marijuana cigarette that I would be "hooked" and would die a penniless pauper with drool running down my chin. They told me this whilst taking drags off of their KING sized "Chesterfield" brand cigarettes and knocking back gulps of "Autocrat" coffee. (Theme: "A swallow will tell you...Autocrat just tastes better"). Luckily, their message was not lost on me and I never did try marijuana.
(I AM however hooked on coffee and cigarettes so there's something to be said for "example" too.)
But the smells!!!
I'm not talking about coffee and cigarettes.
I'm talking about the smells that they gave me.
On Sunday afternoons our house ALWAYS smelled like pot roast. On Saturdays, back when it was legal to do so, Poppy would rake leaves in the autumn and burn them. Us kids would "help", defined as "managing not to fall into the leaves that were on fire" and then we would go into the house which smelled like hot dogs steaming in a ten gallon pot (there were thirteen of us) with a side order of beans cooking on the stove.
If I pass by a "Dunkin Donuts" I can still remember when Momma would bake us cookies, or my Aunt Isabelle would deep fry us up some "Dough-Boys".
If we got the chance to go to Gramma POTENZA's house, you could smell the Spaghetti & Meatballs cooking from MARS.
I never did learn the art of cooking and baking like I wanted to. I'm fair at it but nothing that would make Betty Crocker (or even Chef Boyardee) sling an "OOH LA LA".
I'd like to revisit those days and touch the faces of Gramma Potenza and Momma and Poppy and Aunty Isabelle, and maybe get some tips on how to be a better cook and baker, and in the process, turn my house into a place that smells like a home.
But to CHOOSE between the two, I'd have to say...
COOKING, except when you're BAKING.
WRITER'S NOTE: With that last line...I found the title for this piece. I'll call it...
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