My Mommy, Mary Emma, The Socialite
My family's love language is food. All of my memories start with food. Lavish over the top celebrations with family and friends with an abundance of great food and fellowship.
Everyone in my family cooks! The originator, my maternal grandfather, "Gramps" was the chef of the family. Gramps loved sharing his joy for creating great meals with his eight children, and in his sharing, he sprinkled an extra pinch of fabulousness onto his baby girl, my mommy, the glamorous socialite.
My mom, Mary Emma is not just a cook but she's a wonderful food stylist! Way before we knew food styling was a thing, my mommy had the gift to turn ordinary meals into something extraordinary!
Growing up, our Sundays, Birthdays, and holiday meals were and even now at my mom's beautiful age of 83, a Food Network production! Honey glazed ham with pineapple slices and cloves, golden brown hens stuffed with onions and celery, succulent moist pork chops with stewed apples, all garnished with parsley, leafy greens, bell peppers, fruit, or any type of herbs that had caught her eye from my Nana's garden. She meticulously plated these meals on the glamorous dishes she had received from my daddy's military travels in Germany, Korea, and France. Our kitchen table rivaled those we saw in Better Homes and Garden magazine.
She would even make everyday meals sparkle! On random weekends in the spring and summer, she would wake up at the butt crack of dawn, drag the kitchen table and chairs out into the backyard, set it up with beautiful bright floral linens and matching table settings, cook a full breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, grits, biscuits, and create individual fruit bowl from cantaloupes, all to surprise us when we awoke with a fancy "Garden Breakfast."
My socialite's glamorous food styling skills really shined when she had her Saturday ladies' social meetings with, "The Elleterettes."
Preparation would start on Friday night with softening the block of sharp cheddar cheese for her homemade cheese straws, cooking the ground sausage for her famous sausage balls, and cutting a variety of vegetables and cheeses for her crudites.
The magic started early Saturday morning. This southern socialite would recruit me to help create her wonderful delights. I was on ritz cracker, cheese, ham square, and grape tomato assembly duty. I beamed with accomplishment at being able to stab the multi-colored little swords through the grape, ham, and cheese without breaking the crackers. After assembling the crackers, she would place the freshly baked plate of ladyfingers in front of me, I would rest upon my knees in the chair with the flour sifter to start my duties as the high flying confectioner sugar duster. When all my tasks were done, I would watch mommy create roses out of relishes, make spiral curl garnishes out of carrots and cucumbers, and turn a head of cabbage into a bowl for dip. And right before the ladies were to arrive at 3 pm, she would make the Southern Belle social staple, Lime Sherbet Punch.
This punch was not served in any ordinary glass punch bowl, no it had to be served out of her handcrafted ceramic Gerz punch bowl from Germany. This thing was GIGANTIC! An eggshell white and blue monstrosity with grapes, vines, leaves, numerous engraved German castles, grapevine handles, and the lid handle was not a knob but, you guessed it, another German castle! And the ladle seemed just as HUGE! Her Gerz was fit for royalty and among the green garnishes, colorful vegetable curls and twirls and edible triangles, this huge baby would have made Baron Von Trapp smile! The ladies loved it because it was so "different" and "fancy."
As I matured, so did the delights for my socialite's socials. Triangles turned into croissants, vegetable crudites turned into various salads and cheese trays turned into antipasti trays with olives. As for the punch bowl, like with anything that is fully used for its purpose, it becomes worn and was accidentally broken. All that was left were the cups, so my socialite did what all socialites do, sprinkle it with charm, and arranged them for display, placing the mugs her China cabinet for continued admiration and conversation!