Earl began our Thanksgiving feast preparations tonight by starting out with the cole slaw. He likes to make cole slaw from scratch, mixing various spices, mayos and vinegars with the cabbage and carrots. I usually watch from the sidelines, providing support as taster and kitchen help by cleaning up behind him. Occasionally I recite the line “cook’s not a t’all ‘appy!”. Despite his protests I believe he secretly enjoys the comedy.
After stirring the vat of cabbage and accessories he had me test. I looked at him and told him “it needs more arm.” This is a little inside joke we have. Picture it, September 1999. The little mini-mall in the former “Woolworth’s #1” in the downtown area. We have a fast food restaurant. I’m manager of the store and we have three employees. First up is whom we call “Gina Lolabrigitta”, pronounced as Brett Somers did on Match Game, and the hardest worker of the lot. A single mother at age 22, Gina worked hard and was easily depended on. Next up we have Jimmy, a cast off from the radio station I had worked at who said “thank you” regardless of the situation and spoke like Barbara Eden’s ‘Jeannie’ as he refused to use contractions. And lastly we have Josie, a 72 year old Italian woman who had worked in the aforementioned Woolworth’s as a waitress since she was 16 years old. They couldn’t get her out of the store when it closed, so we just hired her on, sort of like a light fixture. She was just there.
We were also shocked to discover that she liked to stir homemade cole slaw with her arm.
This is apparently a tradition in fast food restaurants and diners across our fine land. Earl spun tales of his days as a teen working at a local diner with a big Greek cook stirring the potato salad with his arm. I’ve seen waitresses stir iced tea and kool-aid with their hands, so I don’t know why I was surprised at Josie’s choice of kitchen wizardry.
Earl and I decided to pass on that secret ingredient for tomorrow’s side dish. But it’s always fun to reminisce about the good ol’ days.