(by Emily Yavitch)
I am my mother’s clone. This happens to most women (“I’m turning into my mother!”), but it’s usually around the age of 35, when they give advice to their children they swore they would never say. For me, it happened around the age of two. Instead of rebelling against this inevitable tide of nature, I embraced it. My mother and I have similar tastes in books and TV shows—sometimes independently borrowing the same book from the library, and more often recommending titles to each other. We have similar tastes in fashion and are the same height and build, so we swap clothes back and forth. Sometimes, if one of us is uncertain about an article of clothing but hesitant to donate it, the other will wear it on loan until we decide we want it back.
I cannot help taking care of a house the way I learned from her. We leave window blinds open during the day because we prefer natural light, and close the blinds the moment it gets dark because it gives the house a cozier feel. We reuse dryer sheets and Ziploc bags. We close doors and cabinets slowly and carefully because we do not like sudden noises. We get a thrill from finding just the right size plastic container to store leftovers.
This similarity extends to the kitchen, where my mother lets no one else assist her. I am the only other one who knows that after using a paper towel to dry a dish, one should then find other cleaning uses for that slightly damp paper towel before throwing it away. Or the ecstasy of finishing bags of food and then reorganizing the pantry. So, when my mom is hosting a party, she will let only me help her prepare. We both enjoy doing it, as we are so simpatico that we are two bodies operating as one. We anticipate and support what the other is about to do, and we rarely need to finish sentences when we are working together.
We both love hosting and have gotten our events down to an exact science. Our recipes are not complex, but it seems that the simplest foods often get the highest praise. Easy garlic Parmesan bread, brownies from a box, and salmon mousse are staples. As Jewish women, our biggest problem is too much food. We can’t help it; we’re concerned that someone will leave hungry. (This has never happened. In fact, most people tend to leave with leftovers that could last a week.) But you never know, and it is better to have too much food than too little. Our trick is to make food we like so, if there are leftovers, we get to enjoy them.
Emily Yavitch graduated from San Diego State University with degrees in Theatre Arts and English. She currently performs improv in Southern California.
15 oz. canned salmon, pink or red, drained (pink is less expensive but not as flavorful)
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
liquid smoke to taste
horseradish to taste
Combine ingredients well, removing or crushing the salmon vertebrae. A fork or clean hands work well.
Serve with crackers or veggies for dipping, or over salad.