Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Little Gram's Bowl

When I was a kid, my two grandmas were distinguished by size. We had "Big Gram" and "Little Gram."

This is Little Gram.

I don't remember Little Gram being a good cook. In fact, the single worst food crime I've witnessed in my life happened in her kitchen.

My grandfather, a super enthusiastic hunter, bagged a wild turkey one year. Somehow my sister and I ended up gathered around the Sunday dinner table on the afternoon when this bird was the main course.

Mom and Dad mysteriously missed the foodventure by dropping us off. Possibly they smelled what Little Gram was cookin'. To this day, it seems suspicious.

Anyway, Little Gram didn't want to boil the wild turkey and pluck it. This was rather gross and I think she put in a lot of hours facilitating Pap's game killing and gardening pursuits. There were a million tomatoes to can and various animals to prepare. She drew the line at plucking a turkey. You can't blame her. Instead, they decided to skin the turkey.
Little Gram's "Magic" Bowl

I'm no expert, but I think this is where the whole thing went wrong.

She pulled this "turkey" out of the oven, a skinned wild turkey with bacon wrapped all over it. The bacon was replacement skin because they figured the skinless turkey was at risk of being dry. She brought it to the table and recounted the whole story about the plucking v. skinning debate. Pap carved it and presented us slabs.

They were right to fear dryness. It was inedible. It could have almost turned a person against bacon if it weren't for the overwhelming gamey-ness of a quite fit and muscular bird.

As I recall, Pap never shot another turkey.

Little Gram passed away in the fall of 2012. In the course of cleaning out her kitchen, my dad found this bowl. "Will you take Gram's bowl?" he asked me. "Anything she made always tasted better when it was served in this bowl. She used to serve spaghetti out of this bowl."

So of course, I took Gram's bowl. It sits on top of my refrigerator and I use it to serve mostly pasta dishes. If I can serve pasta in Little Gram's bowl to my dad, that's an added bonus. I look at it frequently and think of those spaghetti suppers, the ones where Pap poured Ragu into a pot of canned tomatoes and stirred "until the sauce got brown and stuck to the spoon." (These were his exact words when he gave me his sauce recipe.) I try to remember if that bowl was there.

It was, except they didn't put spaghetti in it in my day. It always held delicious fried things. Fried chicken and fried crunchy munchy mushrooms. And oh, how I look at that bowl now and miss crunchy munchy mushrooms!

Most people call them Maitake or Ram's-head mushroom's, giant things that grow at the base of oak trees. Little Gram made really wonderful fried crunchy munchy mushrooms. Or maybe it was just the magic of the bowl. 

Which really makes me wonder. What if she had served the wild turkey out of the special bowl? Does it really have that much magic? 

Maybe. I think it would have been worth a try.