As a child, I absolutely loved Easter. First there was the dress, and often an Easter bonnet. On Easter morning we searched to find that wonderful treat filled basket somewhere in our house, followed by brunch with Mimi and Bopaw and Teetee and Oohooh at the Ranch. While the adults stood on the patio drinking bloodies, my friends and I ran wild on the grounds hunting for eggs. Not once did I collect the most eggs, nor did I ever find the coveted golden egg; my mother, to this day, contends that certain children cheated every year and she has always commended me for being the fair egg hunter. I tend to believe that I was simply the bad egg hunter.
After my annual defeat the whole family moved on to my grandparent’s house for cocktails, golf on the television, gin rummy, cheese balls and the Easter ham. A bone in smoked ham from Fritz’s, baked with potatoes and served with white cream gravy, rolls and asparagus. This was Easter, in fact, it’s entirely possible that I no longer eat meat because I have no ready access to the Fritz’s ham.
With a very few exceptions, you don’t find meat served in our home. Holiday turkeys, I’ll do that. Jack tolerates the weather for about 2 months a year to cook a steak on the grill, and every once in a great while I try and sneak in some vegetarian breakfast strips disguised as a morning delicacy. Jack sniffs me out on that one, “just what are you trying to pass off as bacon today dear?”. But it’s Easter, Cadbury eggs, chocolate bunnies, asparagus and yes, it’s time for the ham.
Yesterday the girls and I went to Paulina Meat Market, what I guessed to be the closest local facsimile to my beloved Fritz’s. Old German men, plenty of meat and a butcher like smoke smell, this should do it. The nice man behind the counter offered the girls a slice of bologna, they looked at me, uncertain. Cringe, really, bologna? It was pinkish gray and damp looking; alright fine, yes, try it, it’s like, well, sausage, sausage, umm, a bunch of meats, different kinds, all mashed together. “Da vurlds bery vest bologna!” from behind the counter. Kate dove in, Mary hesitated, and then poof, the bologna was gone. He gave them each another slice, and one for me. Kate stepped up and ate mine in a flash.
And then I saw it, the ham. If only I could smell it, but perhaps that would be an odd request. Circling around the counter I perused the frozen foods, the cheese and the mustards, and back to the ham. Looks right, could they put it on a platter surrounded by potatoes, on the buffet at Mimi’s house?
Smoked turkey, I bought a smoked turkey breast. But my children had bologna breath all afternoon, maybe that was enough real meat for this year. Next year, there’s always next year.