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thought i was a donut, ya tried to glaze me

9.23.2009

Genetics





Although I'm half-Italian, it's rare that any true guido tendencies come out. I have never thrown a table at somebody. I'm not really attracted much to tape-ups. I don't iron my hair much anymore. And although I do own a nameplate, it's white gold, single-plated, which I think is about as un-Guido as it can be.

Like I said, they're rare. But it happens.


My dad came home two Christmas Eve's ago after a trip to Ragtime, Howard Beach's finest gourmet grocery and deli. He had bought some things for our Christmas Eve feast--seafood salad, antipasta, and, my favorite, some delicious, imported prosciutto. I helped him unload the bag and then opened up the carefully wrapped bag of prosciutto, hoping to eat some. What I found made my blood boil like a pot of sauce on the stove.

"Dad," I said.

"Dad."

He turned to me and said, "What?"

"Did you look at this before you bought it?"

"What do you mean?"

"LOOK."

I grabbed a piece. It was the thickest piece prosciutto I'd ever seen. As a former deli work and slicer extraordinaire, this offended me. As a half-Italian foodie, this made me want to stab someone.

"DO YOU SEE HOW THICK THIS IS?"

"Now, Katie, I...I couldn't open the package in the store..."

I knew this, and I knew it wasn't his fault. But I was angry, and he unfortunately was there. The messenger of bad Italian deli meats.

"It looks like...like Canadian Bacon. God, who was back there? Who the fuck was slicing this?!"

"Katie, I wish you wouldn't curse..."

"It's supposed to be.....PAPER THIN," I screamed. "PAPER THIN! It's INEDIBLE. COMPLETELY INEDIBLE."

Breathless now, I added--

"YOU CAN'T SERVE THIS ON CHRISTMAS EVE!"

I held the pieces in my shaking hands and went through each one. They got thicker as I went through, angering me even more. My dad now was thoroughly frightened and also probably as disappointed as I was that we couldn't sneak some appetizer snacks before dinner.

"This is from the butt-end of the meat," I said, observing the noted thickness at certain parts and the exposed skin on a few pieces. "Those fuckers gave you the complete end of it."

" You're not supposed to do that," I said. "You're supposed to save that to cube up in a pasta salad or in the house vodka sauce. Who doesn't know that? Who would even put this on a slicer? You're not supposed to have to use the fucking guard to cut prosciutto."

I started walking around the kitchen as I continued to talk, having too much anger to stand still.

"You know why they did this to you, Dad."

He looked at me.

"It's because...it's because you're not Italian. They can tell in there. They probably gave their regulars the good stuff. All those lazy old-Howard moms who buy their fucking MEATBALLS at a DELI."

"Well, I wouldn't say that..."

"Well I just did! And it's true! Look at you! Look at you! Look at your fat Irish head and your blue eyes. You were a target! A walking target for bad meat! Let me see the provolone. Let me see it--I want to see how they cut it."

"Katie, relax."

"It's Christmas Eve!" I cried again. "And we don't have edible prosciutto. Now what are we supposed to do? Buy a pack of Danieli from fucking WALDBAUMS?"

"We could pick some up before your mother gets home."

"That's an EVERY DAY prosciutto, Dad. An EVERY DAY kind. This is a holiday. This is ridiculous. You're going to have to bring it back."

"Bring it back?"

"Yes," I said. "Bring it back. To the store. I want you to show this package to the manager, the register girl, the fucking stock boy and tell them what their precious deli workers gave you. You don't need Giada FUCKING deLaurentis to tell you this is bad."

"I think that's a little uncalled for..."

"Uncalled for? Look at how much you paid for this! This imported pack of GARBAGE. Of foam-core-thick prosciutto. Imported fucking HAMBURGER PATTIES of DRY PROSCIUTTO. And you just paid $23 dollars for it."

"It's not a big deal."

"IT IS A BIG DEAL."

He looked at me, and I looked at him.

"You know what," I said. "I'll just go."

He stopped me before I could make it to my car with a solution--he stops back inside Ragtime on his way back from picking up my mom. They could see it was bad. They would probably give him some fresh meat. And I could have my Italian Christmas eve feast. I agreed and handed him my car keys and soon felt the inner Guido inside shrink quietly back down inside of me, where it was all along.

2 comments:

Jesse said...

As a former deli grunt, I'm behind you 100% on this one. It's good that you mentioned the pasta/salad applications for thick prosciutto. But seriously. You DO NOT slice it like that unless they ask for that shit. And you don't fuck with anything that doesn't have PARMA branded on the rind. Your dad totally deserved it, and you probably saved Christmas. I see a sequel to "Jingle All the Way" somewhere in all of this.

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I wonder if my writing has even improved?