Foodie on the Half Shell: Easter brunch

I feel as though the topic of family holidays is something we find genuine and entertaining, because we can all relate on a certain level. Like don’t we all have an Uncle Jim? And an Aunt Kim? I vote those to be the most common uncle and aunt names, ever. And isn’t there always that weird tension between your parents and their siblings? Because whose fault is it that we haven’t gotten together in two years? “It’s Uncle Harry’s fault! He never takes the time to drive to our house. We always go to his house and everything we eat is out of a plastic tub!” says my mom, even though she will see him, give big hugs, and blame herself for the lack of contact.

I want to talk about my Easter 2015, because there is a lot of good food and a lot of good food metaphors about my family’s dynamic during the holidays. My mom’s side is made of Sicilians and Poles, which is an awesome mix of food cultures. But for our holidays, the Polish food is what we stick with. My Grandma was 100 percent Polish, and pierogies, kielbasa, and sauerkraut were all staples during either Christmas and/or Easter.

My mom’s side is full of pretty traditional people. Their interests range from canoeing, boy scouts, baking, military, and the impeachment of our dear president. My dad’s side on the other hand…let’s put it this way: they all had a little too much fun in the 60’s and now there’s only two survivors.

This Easter is busy because my nephew is getting baptized. Which is a huge deal because we are Polish and Italian, and God is still a very concrete idea of a man in the sky who blesses little babies so they aren’t stuck in purgatory if they die…actually my immediate family is Episcopalian and we see the ole purg for what it is…another Catholic excuse not to go to hell.

This Easter we are putting on a Baptismal brunch. I am excited about the menu because I put it together. We are having fresh and smoked kielbasa. The smoked kind you can get anywhere, while fresh, Easter kielbasa is harder to find. Stanley’s Market in Toledo is great for the real deal. You can go there yourself to get it fresh, or you can order it online and receive it frozen. For the pierogies, I have made two new recipes for fillings. One includes a smoked salmon recipe and the other is a smoked paprika, potato, and cheese pierogi. This may cause a bit of controversy in a house full of Polish people, though.

My Uncle “Sam” is comparable to a plain cheese and potato pierogi. He is traditional, and has no interest in health benefits. I can already imagine him making sideways comments about my smoked salmon, red onion, capers, dill, and cream cheese filled pierogies. He will laugh and say they can’t even be called pierogies, and he’ll look around eager for someone to agree. No Uncle Sam, this is the best pierogi recipe in the world and your idea of a pierogi needs salt and there is too much chewy dough. From there we have a toasted almond torte–which I guess is a pretty awesome Pittsburgh treat–and roasted rainbow carrots.

I love my family. My cousins are pretty much cooler versions of their parents. Some of them have cute babies now and are smart and attractive. The best thing in the world is drinking beer with your cousins and remembering the times when we were children and peed in weird places, collected salamanders, misplaced aggression, and had impromptu dance parties. All parts of my family are completely different and really we have very little in common, other than food and love. But when it comes right down to it, what else is there?

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