But then, my mother was Irish. And as I've heard it said, there's Italian food, and Jewish cooking and French cuisine. But there is no such thing as Irish cuisine. Not unless your definition of cuisine begins and ends with potatoes.
Another issue: my mother liked to drink tea. She put milk in her tea. I guess she learned that from her parents. The Irish and the English put milk in their tea. (Hey, the English aren't known for their cooking, either). I could never warm up to tea, until finally, sometime in my mid-40s, I discovered you are allowed to drink tea without milk. And I found out ... it's pretty good!
She also made spaghetti. But remember, she was Irish, not Italian, so the pasta was limp and the sauce pretty bland. Then there was Friday. For us it was reheated-in-the-frying-pan frozen scallops, or reheated-in-the-frying-pan frozen fish sticks. Take your pick.
I remember when I went away to college. All the other kids complained about the food in the cafeteria. But, for me, that stuff was great! There was a nice variety; it tasted good, and the food that was supposed to be hot was actually hot!
The irony is that my mother was not particularly a fan of potatoes. It was my father who insisted that a meal was not a meal unless there were some kind of potatoes on the plate. Baked, boiled, mashed, roasted, scalloped, French fried, au gratin, it didn't matter. And my father had not one drop of Irish blood in his veins.
But my parents often went against stereotype. I mean my mother, the Catholic, married a non-practicing Protestant back in 1939. That in itself was a pretty radical move. They couldn't get married in the church; they had to take their vows in some room off to the side of the vestibule, while my mother's parents scowled at my dad and his heathen immigrant family.
My Catholic mother was also not particularly interested in having a lot of children. It was my dad's idea to produce a crowd of kids who would run around the house, make a lot of noise and tear up the furniture.
My mother was not much of a housekeeper, either. It was my dad who was neat and organized and at times even fussy. He was the dishwasher in the family. And my mother ... okay, she did like to shop, but she wasn't a clotheshorse, by any means. It was my dad who always wore a suit and tie, usually with a vest and watch fob strung across his stomach, and gleaming oxford shoes shined by yours truly at ten cents a piece.
But then, B and I don't necessarily fit the stereotype, either. She's usually the one who's ready on time when we're going out, while I'm running around the house turning out lights, checking to make sure the stove is off, and grabbing a last-minute sweater in case it gets cold. And when it comes to negotiating to buy a house or a car, or even just at a tag sale, I'm the one who blusters and postures about what a great deal I'm going to make. But she's the one who always gets the better price, with a smile, a shake of the head, and an eye-popping lowball offer.
But some things remain the same. B is the cook -- although she is actually good at it, despite the fact that her background is English and German. She does great fish, meat, pasta; her vegetables are fresh and firm; her salads are full of interesting things, and best of all, she has nothing against dessert.
And then there's something else, something I learned from my dad. I'm the dishwasher in the family.