Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Blog-Pong & Catholic Casserole

I have become aware that in bloggerville one thing can often lead to another and, in most cases, with a complete lack of continuity which in all cases, save for a case of beer, is the best case scenario; but of course one must always have a case of beer handy, just in case. That is another story.

So the esteemed DCap, somehow went from 60's surf music to delightful dogs, I dropped a comment containing carrot cake and he responded with a recipe for Jewish Cheesecake which left me wondering how Jewish Cheesecake would vary, say, from Episcopalian Cheesecake but I would assume that the main difference is in how the batter is blessed or whether the spatula is circumcised or not and should not be pondered overly much as long as the end result is delicious. His post, though, did bring to mind my Mother's fixation with Catholic Casserole; a culinary curiosity she would concoct almost every Friday of my childhood and adolescence comprised of canned tuna, cream of mushroom soup and noodles though I must admit that there were some Fridays when the whole family would marvel at her inspired variation of fish sticks and macaroni and cheese. It was the casserole that I remember best. Mostly I remember spewing it up on the sidelines Friday nights during the third quarter of my Varsity football career. But I digress from my main point, if I have one at all, which is doubtful, but in case I did, it was how we became convinced that my Mother, despite all her fiddling with Rosary beds and such, was really Jewish and not a Catholic at all.

I was raised in West Central Wisconsin in a small town abounding with large Elm trees and populated almost equally with German Catholics and Scandinavian Lutherans whose main difference was mostly that the former ate fish on Fridays and the latter could ingest cheeseburgers, if they so desired. Or so it seemed to me, in my youthful days, that both groups would mingle well when there were bingo games, CYO dances, pancake breakfasts or a need to eradicate diseased Elms. My primary education as a child took place at a rusty brick edifice that most in our town simply called the Nun School and it was there that the kindly Nuns beat religion into me, and then out of me with an assortment of map pointers, rulers and chalk dusty erasers. One was known to throw an occasional world globe as well when sufficiently enraged. Confusion was mostly what was taught. Jesus was Jewish, they told me, but he died on the cross and rose from the dead after three days, didn't see his shadow and all the Jews promptly became Catholic. Or at least that is what I got out of it. So it was with great concern that I learned that our neighbor and family physician, Dr. Harris, was Jewish. I asked my father how that could be.

"It's nothing for you to think about, " he said. " Being Jewish just means you go to a different type of church." My father was a master of complex answers to simple questions. My younger brother and I compared notes and realized that Dr. Harris did not go to church at all! And, my brother informed me, he had seen the good doctor at the A&W, of a Friday recently past, ordering a DOUBLE CHEESEBURGER!!!! Well, shit&whiskers! That sealed the deal. My brother and I immediately conspired to become Jewish, not go to church and never again eat Catholic Casserole! My mother got wind of our conspiracy, though, and squashed it with the information that Jews did not celebrate Christmas. We were given the choice of Santa or Cheeseburgers.

But then a curious thing occured. My older brother and sister were in college. I could hear Mom call them frequently.
"Are you OK? You don't call, you don't write."
"Are you eating well?"
"Are you getting enough sleep?"
"I worry about you."
"Have you met a nice boy yet?" (to my sister...for my brother it was....)
" You're not still seeing that Tramp, are you?"

Now my mother thinks a bagel is a breed of dog and lox is something you put on the door, but it did seem like she was starting to act like a stereo-typical Jewish grandmother. Not that I really know what a Jewish Grandmother would act like.

And then she started with the chicken soup. If you came home with sniffles, you got chicken soup. If you were taking finals, you got chicken soup. If you got a traffice ticket, you got chicken soup. It was getting to be too much. We got together and changed her name to Miriam. It sounded much more Jewish that Mary Ann. She is why I named my daughter Miriam.

Time went on. She stopped making the soup. The phone calls, though, have not abated much.
Max is graduating this spring from UW-Oshkosh and co-incidently so is my brother's daughter. Two grand children graduating from college..... the same college.... the same day??!! She call's daily to query how the celebration plans are going. I sometimes miss the Catholic Casserole....
two cans of cream of mushroom soup
two cans of tuna
some elbow macaroni
crushed potatoe chips for topping
dash of pepper

whip together, bake and serve with applesause

*do not play football for at least 5 hours after eating

** I think it is Spartz's turn to post a recipe


Steve Emery said...

I lost it when I read the circumcised spatula idea...

We also had a tuna noodle casserole that was a Friday regular during Lent.

Randal Graves said...

Wait, so the crucifixion is why there's six more weeks of winter?

This is one of the greatest posts I've ever read. You sir, are mad.

Mary Ellen said...

Mmmm....Tuna and noodle casserole, I can't wait until Lent.

Randal: You have it all wrong buddy, when the Pope comes out of the Vatican and sees his shadow, that means there are six more weeks until the Prada Shoe sale. Sheesh...get your Catholic doctrine straight.

Anonymous said...

Oh man... I'm with Randal. You're mom was certifiably Catholic right down to the rosary beeds, which by the way, my dad was fond of making us recite on a nightly basis. Now that's torture.

That said, I will gladly accept your recipe challenge. How's scrambled eggs and codfish hit ya? I thought so. But don't blame me brother. You asked for it.

Mary Ellen said...

Spart- Pfft! Saying the rosary in English is easy, I did it in Italian...I still catch myself mixing it up with English and Italian prayers, a habit I can't break.

Dusty said...

Sorry, but I can not eat anything that has cream of mushroom soup in it...yuk! ;p

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