December 14, 2011
Yes, another Christmas memory. Who else do I have to share them with? I have no kids, no grandkids, no spouse (who probably would've heard most of these by now anyway)...so, you, dear readers, are IT. (If you don't like it, you can always skip reading!)
I know I've mentioned that my family's Christmas Eve dinner was the single best meal of the entire year, and that it consisted of many, many seafood dishes.
One of which was a baccalà salad. Baccalà is salt cod. It comes dried. VERY dried. Appetizing it does NOT look. It doesn't even look remotely edible in its 'natural' state.
My paternal grandmother would take these stiff, hideous looking slabs of salted, dried fish, and soak them. For days. And days. Eventually, they would reconstitute into something at least pliable.
Then she would cook it.
On Christmas Eve, she would make a salad with the cold, cooked baccalà. She would flake the fish into large pieces, add lots and lots of fresh Italian parsley, and dress the salad with lemon juice and olive oil. It was a simple dish, to balance all the other, richer dishes.
So, on this particular Christmas Eve, Grandma made the baccalà. Dad took a helping. He took a forkful, put it in his mouth, and immediately spit it back out!
"MOTHER!", he gasped, gagging. "What did you do to the fish?!"
Grandma took a bite.
In the frenzy of getting Christmas dinner ready, Grandma had reached into the cabinet for the olive oil (which she kept in a large squeeze bottle for ease of use), and accidentally grabbed the adjacent bottle. She squirted the contents onto the fish without looking....and so inadvertently dressed the fish, not with olive oil...but with Octagon dish soap!!!!
Grandma never lived that down. Every Christmas for the rest of her life (even after she'd stopped being able to make the baccalà) one of us would ask her if she was going to remember to put soap in the fish.
And even though none of us makes that dish anymore, it is still a treasured family story.