Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tadashi Who?

Man of the Hour-Glass Mannequin (present company excepted) NYTimes photo by Jonathan Browning
Fashion plate is not a dish stacked in my china cabinet or clothes closet, for that matter. I’m not exactly the anti-fashion either. Let’s just say the leaves settled at the bottom of my post-shopping cup of tea spell out off the rack, not runway. Clearance rack, whenever possible.

I like the quality found in the limited and generic clothing stock of a warehouse store like Costco: Docker slacks, diggers, and shorts. Lee jeans. One-hundred per cent cotton tops. Better yet, tunics. Neutral toned. Clothes usually don’t add measurably nor take away from whatever impression I make.
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Bride and MOTB (in her Tashi Shoji gown).
Yet, based on an article featured in the New York Times a few days agoFashion Section  even -- the  gown I wore to my daughter’s wedding (six months ago) bore the label of a trending designer. A guy at the top of his game who has dressed Oscars winners both before and after Em’s wedding. Hefty winners, referring to these ladies' talent and hip sizes..

Go figure.  Figure like in the pear-shaped dimensions I’ve sported since adolescence. More rump than rack, that’s for sure. Like the generic-ware at Costco: neither eye-catching nor eyesore. Presentable, like my mother use to say. Not necesssarily pretty.

Yet,  Tadashi Shoji, the designer of my dress - bought unused off  eBay -- is the same Tadashi Shoji who has become  The Man  of the Hourglass Mannequin. He has a knack for creating eveningware that smooths out lumps and bumps that shape most women to  an “illusion of tall and thin.” His words.

I wonder if it's too earlier to start trending a nomination for Time magazine’s  Person of the Year.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Pane de Pasqua

This year's batch
For years, dare I say decades, I have associated Easter treats  with a sweet  bread more than a basketful of candy. As a newlywed – in the early Eighties, I came across a recipe for Pane de Pasqua in an Italian cookbook: Easter bread.  The half dozen pastel-colored  eggs braided through a wreath of golden-baked dough was what caught my eye.

I gave it a try.

The recipe listed a cup of sugar in the ingredients but never instructed when to add the sweetener, a misprint I guess.  I figured it should go  with the creamed butter, eggs, and juice from a squeezed lemon. The bread turned out pretty and light. Tasted like a bready  version  of  yellow  jellybeans  manufactured by Sweet Tarts, thanks to a glaze of confectionary sugar, fresh lemon juice, and milk drizzled on top.

This recipe has stuck with me through the years – with some alterations. After a few tries I split the wreath with the half-dozen eggs into two smaller braided loaves, three eggs decorating each. Made it easier to share between  two households, my parents’ , and Larry’s parents’. Both sides of the family considered it an Easter breakfast food more than a dessert. Perfect start to the day with a cup of strong black coffee. Morning leftovers reappeared on the mid-afternoon dessert table. Any leftover slices after that got double Saran-wrapped and popped into the freezer, readied for a couple more breakfasts.  

Through the years I’ve learned two lessons. First, bake it, unrushed,  a few days in advance, since it takes five to six hours . Most of that time goes to two dough risings – two hours each – as the initial ball of dough and then the braided ropes double in size. I guess that’s the resurrection part of the Easter bread. I’ve also learned to skip the tradition if Easter week becomes too hectic or my heart isn't committed to the process of beating, kneading, punching down, braiding and baking.I passed on it a number of times when my children were young and I worked full time  Skipped two years ago when my mother died on Palm Sunday. Picked up the tradition again last year and this year. Hope to introduce it to my new grandson  next year when he celebrates his first Easter, along with a mooshed up jelly bean or two.

Here’s the online recipe for the bread – with full instructions on when to add the sugar, plus a little Pane de Pasqua lore.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Grandparents Get Named Too

My brother and I with Grandpa and Grandma D'Elia 1950
Last Christmas, I didn’t know I would become a grandmother later this year. Now, a few days before Easter, I do. Puts a different slant on a family holiday – winter or spring.

First, there’s the whole Easter Bunny thing. “Look what he left here,” I’ll be saying next year, to a baby, blissfully oblivious to the cause and effect connected to a basket of eggs, candied and hard-boiled. In time he will learn to anticipate the sweets and playthings that can fit in a tiny bushel. In more time, he may even roll his eyes at his grandmother’s proclivity towards overindulging him with treats. But then, what’s a Grammy for?

There, I said it: Grammy.

People want to know, you know. The way, pre-wedding,  they wanted to know what my future son-in-law would call me, they want to know what Patrick Lawrence will call me, his Mom’s Mom, when we are grandmother and grandson. I remember when someone asked my dad that, near forty years ago. His son was about to become a father. Dad answered, “Mr. Baione.” He was going for a laugh. Elicited a few raised eyebrows too. In seemingly no time, he became Grandpa Baione to each of my brother’s four children. The same four who dubbed my mom “Grammy” through their child and adulthoods.

These revered designations carried on when my daughter and son were born – sort of. Em certainly took the cue from her older cousins, but when the now, mommy-to-be, tried to repeat her cousins’ term of endearment for my mother,  she forsook the first syllable and double-stated the second. Thus Grammy became Mimi to my daughter and son.

What will my grandson call me?

Whatever he wants.


Sunday, April 1, 2012

What's in a Name? Revisited

Baby-to-Be is a boy. No question about his name either.

Patrick Lawrence.

Dad-to-Be has always been partial to Patrick. A strong Irish name, he says. Unprecedented on his side of the family.

And I don’t think there was ever a doubt this tyke’s moniker would, in some way, honor Larry, his Mom’s deceased father.

Patrick Lawrence. “Nobleman of Laurentis,” when you merge the meanings of the two names.

Come to think of it, his middle name plays off of Grammy-to-Be’s too. As husband-and-wife, I was Laura-and-Larry.  As sister-and-brother, I am Laura-and-Larry. Both of which contributed to  why my son was not named Larry. Those along with two other contributions: Uncle Larry and Great Uncle Larry on Larry’s side of the family.

 “Too many Larry’s,” I can still hear him saying when I suggested our son be a Larry Jr.

My parents back peddled a bit on the choice of my name too. I was supposed to be Rose, after my father’s mother, if I was a girl or Laurence, after his father, if I was a boy. When I surprised all – by being immediately followed by a twin brother, my parents resorted to two twin-names alternatives: Laurence and Laura or Rose and Rosario. My twin brother may be even more grateful than I am for the choice they made. Shakespeare may have said “ a  rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” but I’m not sure he'd say the same holds true for a Rosario.