O is for Only in America – a-to-z blog challenge

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I may have expressed a fondness for the Mo Rocca show on the Cooking Channel “My Grandmother’s Ravioli”.  I love it – beyond love.  It is a look at the grandparents who came to this country from foreign lands, bringing with them the recipes from generations of Irish grandmoms, Italian grandmoms, Jewish and Russian grandmoms.

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I am always touched by this show.  I am smiling, thinking of my own grandmothers and their recipes.  Both of them were Irish, and while there weren’t elaborate meals, there was stick to your ribs soups and stews, Irish soda bread, pudding cakes – everything made with the love of generations.

This past weekend, the grandmom came from Thailand.  She grew up in poverty, but came to this country filled with hope, optimism, and a determination for a better life.

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And when Mo asked her, all these many years and American experiences later, what she thought when she came to this country, her face lightened and brightened.  A smile poured across her face like maple syrup over pancakes – slow and sweet.  And with the joy of a thousand Christmases, she exclaimed, “It was WONDERFUL here!”

And you know she still believes it; it IS wonderful here – you could read it in her happy eyes and joyous face.  Most of us will never know or never experience the things that some of our grandparents knew and lived through.  We will never know hunger so great or poverty so desperate or intolerance for beliefs so oppressive.  But we can know how much it meant for our grandparents to get here, find a better life, and hold onto the traditions and the foods that will help us remember where our lives – our histories – began.

I love this show – one that could only have been made here in America.

Don’t let Gordan Ramsay into your kitchen

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Okay, to clear the air and be upfront, he can come into MY kitchen anytime.  Not only is he a hottie, but I am not the best cook, and I’d be glad for some assistance in that area.  From a hottie.

I’ve been watching Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares for a quite a while – both the UK version and the US version.  I’m a huge fan of The F Word.  I even tune in now and again to Hell’s Kitchen (although honestly, they seem to be a worse bunch of chefs than I am!).  And he seems like he knows what he’s doing.  Ramsay seems like he knows what he’s talking about, and he’s got successful restaurants of his own under his belt.

Right?

Well, not entirely.  His empire has been crumbling as of late, and rumors have circulated that the Ramsay enterprise is in dire financial straits.  There have been reports of him having to sell personal belongings – a la Pawn Stars – to pay off debts owed and taxes that are due.

So I started looking into some of the restaurants featured on Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares.

Gone.  More than half.

Not that they wouldn’t have closed anyway – although there are some restaurant owners who have blamed the famed chef for their ultimate demise.  But whatever business plan Ramsay has to get these mostly Mom and Pop restaurants back on solid ground doesn’t work for them – and evidently, it doesn’t always work for Ramsay, either.  Three of his restaurants closed within a six month span in 2008, and in recent days, he fired his father-in-law (who was chief executive of the chef’s company) and two other family members.

He has just written an open letter to his mother-in-law, essentially begging her to resume communication with his wife and children following his in-laws’ decision to halt all communications with Ramsay or his family.

Until he puts his business and family lives in order, I’m not sure I’d want him handling the sharp knives in my kitchen.

Would you?

Granuaile steak and the grill

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Granuaile asks every day “When is Daddy going to start cooking steak tonight?”   This is hardly a child who knows her Daddy is retired on disability and her Mom going back to school to supplement our changes in lifestyle – especially the upcoming loss off the wonderful health insurance we have had for 13 years through Microsoft.

She just knows five things about dinner:
Steak or anything else grilled means more play time outside
Pizza means Daddy is trying to set the house on fire AGAIN
Pasta means Daddy cooks on the stove (okay, it means Mommy cooks on the stove, but she lets Daddy stir the pasta so he doesn’t set the house on fire AGAIN)
Swooshee (or Sushi, for those of you who have yet to purchase your Rosetta Stone – Learn to Speak “Granuaile” version) is eaten on the living room floor
And the doorbell means the deliveryman is here so Daddy doesn’t set the house on fire AGAIN

How awesome to be a little kid again?