52 Dinners - Week 10: Mother Cuisine with Mothers in the Motherland

52 Dinners Place Setting Inspiration

Greetings from North Dakota!

I rarely make this pilgrimage to my homeland and was overdue for a visit.
My time here is usually spent drinking coffee and gabbing with my mother for hours on end until we transition from coffee to wine and continue to gab. 
I’ve mentioned before that she is an extraordinary cook, baker, and hostess. She and my step dad have a group of friends with whom they regularly get together for fun dinners and adventures, and this weekend I had the pleasure of cooking for and co-hosting a dinner party for this great group of folks.

Coming up with a menu was a fun challenge. I knew that I wanted to bring meat from our farm, I didn’t want us to have to spend two full days in the kitchen, and it was important to me that the meal be a bit exciting and unusual for our guests without being too intimidating or unfamiliar.
Inspired after reading Lidia’s Italian American Kitchen by Lidia Bastianich from cover-to-cover, I came up with:
  • Rosemary and Garlic Roasted Nuts
  • Stuffed Mushrooms, Caponata, Olives, Pickles, Etc.
  • Linguine Carbonara with Bacon
  • Pork Chops Capricciosa with Lemon Roasted Carrots & Potatoes, Broccolini
  • Watercress & Arugula with Anchovies
  • Olive Oil Cake with Gianduja Gelato, Roasted Hazelnuts, & Candied Blood Orange

We had wine pairings (the Aperol and sparkling red were both well received) and everything was wonderful.

Some highlights of the evening include:
  1. The 8x10’ Italian bistro image and decor that served as the backdrop for the themed photo booth,
  2. The impromptu reunion of Oasis, my mom’s women’s gospel barbershop quartet, which retired ten years ago,
  3. This very special cross-stitch artwork that Mary made for me.

The best part of all was being able to spend these past few days with my mom. Coming back to my rural ND hometown has been bittersweet in the past. The familiarity and sense of “home” is great, but it inevitably stirs up memories of being that chubby, effeminate butterfly trapped in his cocoon. But now that I’ve spread these wings and flown off to be fabulous, I love being back here to create new memories.

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