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“Mom, what were you thinking?  Seriously!”

Everything is seriously at 16.  Each and every iota of knowledge in a 16 year old brain is ever so much more wise than, say, a parent?

“Mom, it is a HUGE hunk of ham!  What were you thinking?”

Apologies to Granny and Grandad, the Irish grandparents.  They just did not know good food.  Ham to me says “The Irish are cooking tonight!  Lower your expectations.  Get out the salt.”

When Granny and Grandad were in town, dinner was ham, plain mashed potatoes and green peas from a can.

Green peas from a can????

Don’t get me wrong.  Granny and Grandad were grandparents you wanted to be around!  Granny taught us how to play poker when we were just wee things.  (Never touch those cards till everyone has been dealt their hand!)  She let us sip her sherry.  At the end of the night, she would deal “show downs” until each grandchild had $20 in his or her pocket.

Grandad loved taking us out for dinner, something we didn’t do often in a family of seven children.  He like watching us relish the experience – open faced, hot roast beef sandwiches with gravy served at the golf course?  That was living!  And if we asked for Pepsi for breakfast, both Granny and Grandad were happy to oblige.

When Granny and Grandad moved into our house, post-stroke (Granny) and post-macular degeneration (Grandad), my mother became a master of two kitchens:  bland Irish-style food would be served in the in-law apartment, while robust Italian-style food would hit our dinner table.  The occasional and untimely opening of the apartment door when onions, or God forbid garlic, was frying would prompt Grandad to howl “What is that God awful smell?????”

My ham aversion, then, has played out this way:  my kids think ham only comes in deli-thin slices.  An entire ham evokes the teenage “Mom, seriously!”

This holiday weekend I have challenged myself to re-think the ham issue.  That small ham in the fridge – I think I will try grilling it, with indirect heat.  I read somewhere that you can keep it moist by spritzing it with apple juice.  Some pineapple juice would probably work nicely, too.  In honor of Granny and Grandad, I may sip some lovely dry sherry while it cooks.  Tio Pepe will be just right.




About Claire Ziamandanis

Claire Ziamandanis is Professor of Spanish at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY. Over her 20 years at the college, she has been a champion for study abroad, establishing the first affiliation for Spanish students, and then working with the Study Abroad office to open the doors to students from other majors. Claire loves travel, food, wine and Spanish but not necessarily in that order!


  1. Awesome post, where is the rss? I cant find it!

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