Deb Amy Reveals The Rituals Of Her Past. Well, Some Of Them.

When I think of rituals, my brain goes right back to college. I, my friends, was a sorority girl. And sororities are steeped in rituals. Unfortunately, they’re all secret. As is the handshake. So we can’t go there. Too bad too, because those rituals are all kinds of awesome.

Because if I told you, you know, I wouldn’t be able to…well, I can’t tell  you.

But there is a long-ago ritual that comes to mind. And it’s not a secret. It’s the one I’m sure sealed my love of food and cooking and all things kitchen and brisket-related.

It’s me, taster-extraordinaire in the really hip patchwork blouse. In the arms of my grandmother is my cousin (his mother is standing behind me). That cousin is now older than me. It’s kind of a miracle.

I was my grandmother’s official taster.  Yes! You read that right. And I do not want to hear from my brother or my cousins that they, too, were her tasters, because they’ll be lying. I was the oldest (which is no longer the case, now they are all older than me), and the only girl (still true) and I was the one who stood next to my grandmother when the brisket was done, and sliced. I was given the end piece right off the knife. Very carefully, I assure you.  I nodded my head in approval every time, as if saying, “Yes, this is fit to feed the family.”  I think I was the brisket taster until my grandmother stopped making brisket.  I was probably in my twenties or thirties.  Perhaps had she made brisket for my kids, they would have become the tasters.  It probably would have been my daughter, as I think taster-dom is passed down through the matriarchal lines. It must be, because inevitably, after dinner, we’d head into my grandmother’s bedroom and go through her jewelry drawer.  The jewelry drawer that was meticulously arranged with pins, chains, pendants, earrings, necklaces, and bracelets, all in their own little sections of the inserts of cleaned out candy boxes. Genius, I know. That’s where I was the tester. You know, testing all the jewelry out, making sure it was wearable, always putting it back in the right compartment.

I’m no longer a taster or a tester. I’m no longer a sorority girl.  These rituals are no longer part of my life, but they are part of me.

Maybe that’s the same thing.

What rituals from the past have helped to shape who you are today? 





12 Replies to “Deb Amy Reveals The Rituals Of Her Past. Well, Some Of Them.”

  1. Ha! I think I had a dress made out of that exact same patchwork material. If not exact, pretty darn close.

    The biggest ritual in our household is The Making of the Glögg, a kind of mulled wine we serve every year at our Christmas Eve party. The tradition was passed down by my Swedish mother, but the ritual of TG making it a few days after Thanksgiving, while I watch and kibitz, is our own. (It has to sit in a dark closet for several weeks to achieve the right flavor.)

    1. That was obviously my favorite shirt, because it’s in LOTS of old photos. Linda, since you have excellent taste, I’m sure you can relate! 😉

  2. Oooh, brisket. The Viking makes brisket, and The Making of The Brisket is a ritual in itself. It starts at 5 am, with the lighting of the Weber and the making of “the sop.” A set number of coals added every hour on the hour… Okay. It’s not even 6 am and I’m drooling.

    1. I was going to add the explanation and the recipe — because this is a beefy brisket, not a barbecue or sweet brisket. It’s dry, with gravy on the side. I just think of it as brisket, although there are many permutations. Too bad none of them are this good!! 😉

  3. Brisket taster?? BEST JOB EVER!!!

    My mom-mom had food rituals, too, although it was her mother — my great-grandmother — who was the great food matriarch of the family. She passed when I was about one. But my mom-mom carried on a few of her Eastern European dishes (stuffed cabbage, roasted plum sauce, etc) and a few general Jewish/mom-mom dishes of her own (baked chicken, roasted potatoes, split pea soup, matzo ball soup, etc). My mom and aunts tend to make the brisket, but sadly I never got the official role of Brisket Taster. I managed to taste plenty, though ;-).

    1. Dana!! That’s MY mom-mom in the picture. I think it’s a Jewish/East Coast name for a grandmother, because when I say it people usually scrunch up their brow and say “HUH?” Love that we both had mom-moms!

      1. Mom-moms rule!! Love it!! Mom-mom and Pop-pop — both integral parts of my youth :).

        That said, my own mother wants no part of the term “mom-mom.” I think she has settled on GG (“gee gee”), which, depending on when you ask stands either for “Grandma Greenspon” (my maiden name) or “Gorgeous Grandma.”

        1. Mom-mom and Pop-pop for me too. I had my Mom-Mom until I was 40 and my Pop-Pop until I was almost 42. I know I am very lucky. And that my kids were lucky to know them both.

          Love GG — and I’m thinking she should go with Gorgeous Grandma!!

  4. What a great story! I always WANTED to be the taster alone but my grandmother always let my brother taste everything too. Little brothers are big on wanting to share these kinds of responsibilities!

    Love the shirt! My mother had a full length apron in a similar material (purple and green instead of blues) and I have it now, and it makes my family laugh hysterically when I wear it. That’s probably part of the reason I do wear it…

    I’d almost forgotten about the “tasting” rituals around Thanksgiving until you shared yours! Thanks for bringing back those memories!

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