Saturday, November 28, 2009

French dessert? No, it's from Brooklyn

Whenever the paper cups filled with cake, topped by a couple of dollops of whipped cream and a maraschino cherry were lined up behind the glass delicatessen case, my mother would come home with two as a special treat for her daughters. I still remember the delectable fun of pushing the cake from the bottom of the cup until you had a mouthful of whipped cream and cake.

Until this weekend, it had to have been at least five decades since I had a Charlotte Russe. I was visiting a couple who also recalled the days when a Charlotte Russe was a popular dessert in Brooklyn.

Though some will tell you that the original Charlotte Russe was made with Bavarian cream set in a mold lined with ladyfingers, the simpler Brooklyn version was, to us, la crème de la crème!

Though there are several explanations of how the original Charlotte Russe was named, it is generally credited to a French chef in the early 19th Century who named it in honor of his Russian employer.

The most meaningful historical fact to me, however, is that the Charlotte Russe gained popularity during the 1930s and 1940s throughout the five boroughs of New York City. If more elaborate versions appear today, I don’t think they could be any more luscious than the Charlotte Russe we enjoyed as children.

Friday, November 27, 2009

“What goes around, comes around.”

Every January 2nd, January 24th and April 6th for years, my three children could expect to hear from me the story of the day they were born. My delight in retelling the events of those days ended before they became teenagers, however.

That’s when I began to hear “You already told me about it. You tell us every year.” I was crushed. To me, those three days were the most special days of my life and I loved reliving those moments.

On my granddaughter Maeve’s sixth birthday this month, Trish started to tell her the story of the day she was born. Without missing a beat, Maeve piped up with “You told me all about that last year.”

I guess it’s only when you become a parent yourself that you recognize why your own parents felt certain stories were so meaningful.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Deck the halls? Please, not yet.

Okay, I give up. After years of bellyaching about the too-early start of the Christmas season, I hereby do solemnly swear that from 2009 on I will not complain when I hear Christmas jingles in November or see holiday ads before Thanksgiving, or grumble when I see living rooms with their Christmas trees all lit up on December 1st.

I promise not to repeat “When I was young we decorated our tree on Christmas Eve.” I will keep my mouth shut when I see a Christmas tree lying at the curb on December 27th instead of being kept until the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6th.

I will remember that traditions may change with the times. So I will welcome the spirit of the season weeks before December 25th. With that thought in mind, let me be the first to wish you a Merry Christmas

Friday, November 13, 2009

Do I take the A, the 4 or the 6?

If I’d been more adventurous yesterday, I might have changed my plans and stayed on the Queens-bound train until it reached Woodside, my frequent destination decades ago. Instead, I got off at Grand Central and transferred to an uptown train - which I continue to call the Lexington Avenue line - to reach the Museum of the City of New York at Fifth Avenue and 103rd Street.

I was surprised a while ago when Mike, my son-in-law, showed me how I could get from Times Square to the east side, Fifth Avenue and East 60th Street to be exact, by taking the “N” train. What? Never heard of it, but then I can’t tell an “M” from a “C.” All these years I thought the only way to reach the east side was to take the shuttle to Grand Central and change to the Lexington Avenue line.

Ever since the subway system changed over to letters and numbers - the A, B. C, D, E, F, 1, 2, 3, etc. - I check the subway map to make sure I get where I want to go. The decision used to be so simple. It was the IRT, BMT and Independent lines and everyone knew the route of their own system.

When returning from Manhattan, I took the IRT’s 7th Avenue line and only had to choose between trains destined for Flatbush Avenue or New Lots Avenue. And, if I mistakenly took the train bound for New Lots, I’d merely have to change at Nevins Street for the one that would take me to Flatbush Avenue, the last stop.

That was way back when I was a frequent subway rider. My friend Carolyn and I would hop on the subway and go into Manhattan when we were teenagers. Other times I’d take the subway to Times Square, head for Port Authority and take the bus to Hoboken to visit the Hildemann branch of my family. But the sweetest ride was always to Woodside to visit my Aunt May on 47th Street. I’ve often thought I’d like to retrace the ride I took many years ago. I didn’t do it yesterday but I will, one of these days.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Glory at any price?

Disclaimer: I’ve not been a huge sports fan since the Dodgers left Brooklyn. But I understand the baseball fever that hit millions during the recent World Series. Yet I wonder when is it all too much? Or is it ever too much?

Today I saw a Bloomingdale’s ad for limited editions of a 3” Yankees baseball made of Waterford crystal for $165; a Yankees 9” baseball player made of Waterford crystal for $190; and a Yankees 3” baseball cap made of Waterford crystal for $170.

Am I a Scrooge? Someone who doesn’t appreciate a fan’s ecstasy? Or, aren’t there more sensible ways to commemorate the victory? A T-shirt perhaps? I guess I just don’t understand.