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You Could Eat Off the Floor

(by Morgan Levine)

For as long as I can remember, whenever we went to my grandparents’ home for dinner, my father would encourage us to eat beforehand. Grandma’s cooking was that bad. My mother did not disagree with this criticism (which said a lot since my parents separated when I was six). Her mother’s cooking was unimpressive even while she was growing up in a low-income housing project in Canarsie, Brooklyn during the 1950s. A Jewish mother’s disinterest and lack of skill in the kitchen at that time and place was rare, almost shameful. How could she love her family if she did not know how to make a good kugel? Grandma’s best meal was scrambled eggs with butter. And perfectly toasted white bread. With butter (while “Live with Regis and Kathie Lee” was on the TV in the background). Her three favorite condiments were hot fudge, ketchup, and duck sauce (she bought her own bottles of a brand called Mee Tu).