Easter dinner will be at my house this year. I’m making meat lasagna and veggie stuffed shells, key lime pie and elephant poop cookies for dessert (all my specialties). I’m talking to my mother about the ‘menu’ and she gives me the look. “What about ham?”
“What about it?” I ask.
“You have to have ham.”
This, from the woman who only served home-made ravioli for every holiday dinner (even Thanksgiving) –
It’s Easter morning. I am ten, sitting on the counter in the kitchen of our old house kicking red PF flyers (I’m trying to avoid putting on the shiny, new patent leather shoes that pinch my toes), keeping beat to a song my mother hums while she cooks. She pauses to use the back of a floured hand to wipe hair from her eyes before rolling out sheets of pasta dough made from scratch.
With a practiced move, she dips her hand into a sack of flour and anoints the table. From a cracked pink bowl, she separates a handful of dough, drops it onto the floured surface and rolls a wooden pin back and forth. She shifts the thinning mound clockwise and continues to roll over its growing spread. This is fascinating to a ten year old child who cannot imagine how she does this, except through magic.
What happens next is something I could sell tickets to. In a manner so smooth and precise that I have never been able to match it, my mother smartly scoops just the right amount of ricotta into a perfect row across the bottom edge of the dough, flips this edge up and over, then swiftly applies karate chops in between each bundle and across the top to create a seal.
Next, with a pizza cutter (I now own), she drives the wheel up and over, down and around each perfect pocket like a race car driver on a slalom track, screeching to a halt with a huff and sigh.
I stay far back as arms and elbows fly, but as soon as the flour settles, I hop off the counter and carefully pick up each ravioli, place it at the other end of the table, counting as I go. 136, 137, 138…