Laws must be broken.
Some of them.
Those laws which pre-empt the role of a parent.
Or the role of a micro-society.
I am going to present a case to you that demands such scofflaw.
I owned and operated a restaurant in Boston for many years.
No longer in existence.
This situation developed at that restaurant.
Here is an excerpt from “Dom’s, an Odyssey,” a book I published perhaps ten years ago.
See the “Books for Sale” page on the blog.
Salads at Dom’s were prepared and served tableside by a corps of twelve-year-old boys, our ‘cart kids,’ who were also responsible for tableside service of pasta, the cheeseboard, and desserts from our fleet of dining room carts.
Professional able service of these courses was another component of our customers’ dramatic experience, and the youth of the servers added romance to the experience.
We dressed these young men in identical Italian-designed clothes: white shirts with the sleeves rolled up to just-below-the-elbow, black dress pants, and black and white thin-striped ties.
If their socks and well-shined shoes were black, they could choose their own.
My then twelve-year-old son, Dom, inadvertently originated the idea of using youngsters on the carts.
My three sons all worked informally at the restaurant as bussers, clearing tables, pouring water, filling bread baskets. Simple, unobtrusive duties.
Totally familiar with Dom’s salad service Dom was – we had the identical after-dinner salad at home almost every night; son Chris loved the salad course and never let his mother forget it.
On this inspirational night, Dom noticed a table waiting too long for their salad course.
Unbidden, he wheeled the armed salad cart over.
The salad cart, equipped with a bowl of salt, a pepper mill, a yellow pyramid of lemons, a large bowl of alert Bibb lettuce leaves, a small knife, attractive bottles of Italian extra virgin olive oil, freshly-peeled garlic, a garlic press, chilled salad plates, and an extra-large French olive-wood salad bowl with matching serving fork and spoon.
The cart practically made the salads without human help.
But not really.
Dom lightly-pressed a garlic clove and rubbed it on the inside of the bowl, dropping the wasted clove into a dedicated tiny wasted-garlic clove bowl.
After filling the scented bowl with whole Bib lettuce leaves, he deftly but carefully poured the oil over the leaves, added a pinch of salt, and several gratings of black pepper.
Years of experience. Literally.
He tossed the lettuce until well-coated with the oil and spices.
Cutting a lemon in half, he squeezed the juice over the oil-protected lettuce leaves and tossed the salad again.
Serving went as smoothly.
Dom flipped the cart’s folded leaves up, dealt out four salad plates, and filled each with a single, practiced grab of the serving fork and spoon.
He set a plate in front of each diner and ended his service by exhorting the table to “Enjoy,” before returning the cart to the station.
In his first at bat, my underaged son had expertly made and served four lovely salads, in less than a minutes, in full view of the admiring dining room.
His spontaneous, matter-of-fact response, timely and graceful, won everyone’s praise.
The customers loved it.
I was proud.
And the waiter was grateful, especially when I told him not to offer Dom any money for his help.
Dom now the first cart kid.
How’re you gonna keep them back on the farm…?
One of the wait staff asked if we could find another such position for his also twelve-year-old brother.
And then my favorite cook, Tina Perriera, asked if we could give her son a job like that, too.
And the ‘use-my-child’ rush was on.
We needed a team-back.
We will continue this story very soon.
Today is Wednesday, 6/6/18
Good morning, my friends.
This is my sixtieth consecutive daily posting.
It is 6.09am.
A cloudy, cold-for-June day, today. Wait till tomorrow.
On TV: “Exodus,” with Paul Newman
I’m at my desk.
Dinner is leftovers from a full refrigerator. Fun.
From Sally, of Sally's Corner, found in Web-Site under "Contributing Writers."
"And for those afflicted with the necessity of objective truth in every niggling piggling detail,
Don’t forget to take your anti-pedantic pills.
Ask your doctor if it’s time to increase the dosage."
Ha, ha, ha! I love this!
(Truth be told, I can wander into this category if I'm not paying attention, which is why I appreciate your comment so much. That's one reason I have a spouse - he sometimes serves to "un-anchor" me from my all-too-precise mud.)
I added Thrice-Washed Hands to the “Always on Hand” page of the Recipes section:
Nothing is more important in food preparation than free-of-containment hands.
Washing them three times in succession before starting the cook, and then whenever need arises during, is an important aspect of food preparation.”
A guest post, today, from Frank Imbergamo, in his own words talking about growing up in the North End of Boston.
I grew up in one of the best neighborhoods in the world. Boston’s North End.
My father, Guy Imbergamo, passed away in November of 1956 so my mother raised all four of us…my older sister, Josephine, my younger siblings, Skip and Rosemarie, and me, Frank, on her own at 414 Hanover Street.
It was a close-knit neighborhood.
Everyone like a family.
As a kid, I loved playing pool.
I used to go to Minnie’s Pool Room on Charter Street and then later we used to go to Carlo’s on Hanover Street or Mazza’s on Little Prince.
We were also members of the Madonna Della Cava society, a social club that also ran a feast every August.
My friends and neighbors were the Passacantillis who lived next door and who also owned the Blue Front restaurant which was like our second home.
We used to love their meatball sandwiches and pork chops and vinegar peppers.
It was like eating at home.
One of my fondest memories from my childhood was waking up to the aroma of fried meatballs and gravy cooking on Sunday mornings.
There was nothing better.
Of course, some of the meatballs never made it into the gravy because we always had to taste a few friend meatballs.
My brother, two sisters, and I would sit around the table and my mother would give us a couple of meatballs before we headed out to Church.
We couldn’t wait until we got home again because we knew what a great meal awaited us…Mom’s gravy and meatballs served over macaroni or ravioli.
We’d always have fresh baked bread from the bakery along with our meal.
What a perfect day!
My passion for cooking started way back then when I was a boy.
I remember going to the meat markets in the North End on Saturdays with my mother and grandmother to buy fresh meat for the gravy.
We would go to the Economy Meat Market on Prince Street, E-Gray’s at Haymaker Square, and then we’d go to Kennedy’s for butter and Blackstone Street for the fruit and vegetables.
Sometimes on the way home we’d stop at the chicken house on Richmond Street to buy freshly-killed chicken.
Along the way we’d meet family and friends who were making the rounds, too, picking up all the special ingredients for their special dinners.
It was a wonderful experience.
Whenever my mother and grandmother made gravy, I’d watch with great interest.
I would see how they mixed the hamburger for the meatballs and watch them browning the meat before it went into the gravy.
Sometimes they would add sausages, beef braciola, and pork to the gravy along with the meatballs.
They cooked with passion for they were cooking for the family they loved.
(Frank Imbergamo has appeared on the Food Network’s “Emeril Live!” show.
His recipe for gravy is one of the top-rated recipes.
And he has a cookbook “The Good Life-Favorite Italian Recipes” you can buy at www.barnes andnoble.com.)
All of this would not come about without going back to where it all began with my mother and my grandmother and their love for their family and their love of cooking.
To my mother, Mary Imbergamo, and my grandmother, Rose Solimini, “Mille grazie con amore.”
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