As some of you may recall from having read some of my historic Spark blogs, my Dad was a professional chef before I was born. He had gone to culinary school on the GI Bill after World War II.
Although he left the restaurant industry before I was born, this training and experience meant that food in our home, while I was growing up, was nothing short of delectable. Surely this contributed to why I am now here, considering that ingredients were awful for us and portions were excessive. Yumminess was not skimped upon, not one iota.
With his culinary and restaurant industry background, my parents frequently entertained friends and relatives at our house. This was not something that we kids looked forward to our relished – it meant having to be clean, neat, quiet and polite. But like a scene from the TV show “Mad Men”, they liked to throw cocktail parties.
One New Year’s Eve, more or less 1969 or 1970, they did just that. And in those days, this did not mean hitting the warehouse store for premade party platters. Instead it meant all of us slaving away in the kitchen (Dad and his team of indentured sous chefs), on all manner of delectable homemade delicacies.
Front and center on that particular New Year’s Eve was the homemade cheese ball (with the homemade crackers – I kid you not). The cheese ball was a special blend of several exotic European cheeses, bound together with butter and other terrible-for-you ingredients. Round and round in the stand mixer, it gradually took on a pale yellow color and a texture of coarse cream cheese.
Dad then unveiled the special ingredient to make it “extra yummy” and “something people would talk about still on the next day” – black caviar. As memory serves, perhaps a teaspoon – certainly not more than a tablespoon of the caviar went into the stand mixer bowl.
The pretty pale yellow cheese ball, in a matter of a few revolutions on the mixer stand, turned dark charcoal gray. We sous chefs thought it pretty funny, but Dad was not amused. You see, maybe people would not thrill to east a gray cheese ball, no matter how incredibly good it tasted (which it no longer did, to our kid-palates). Dad said “I can fix this. We’ll just bring the color back.”
Out came the yellow food coloring, and voila… the dark grey cheese ball now was Snot Green! And the more yellow food coloring that was added, the greener it got. All afternoon Dad frantically endeavored to adjust its color, and it varied from Army-Olive to Nasal-Discharge and back again. Of course, we kids thought this was beyond hysterical!
As Dad predicted, the guests did not touch the green cheese ball. We sampled it along with the rest of the leftovers on New Year’s Day, which probably is just about what some of you may be doing right now in the day after the festivities as the holidays draw to a close. Remember, leftovers track as zero calories!