Monday, September 20, 2010


It was either Ricky Rokicki or Billy Russo with whom I had my first culinary epiphany. Kindergarten was over, we were playing in the backyard, and my mother was working at Receiving Hospital in downtown Detroit. We were tired of playing “ship” with the overturned bicycle. So, we decided to cook.

Best way to penetrate the house’s outer defenses was the milk chute. These houses in St. Clair Shores had been built Levittown style of bricks and lumber, all ticky tacky, all looking alike, and all with boxes next to the back door in which the milkman deposited his order. Most thieves are not slender enough to penetrate. But 5-year-olds are.

We entered the kitchen, turned on the oven, and made apple pie. The result was a significant pit in the surface of my mother’s stove from where I had inserted the can-opener out of curiosity. And a bit of black on the ceiling above the stove, deposited when the “pie” self-immolated, leaving only carbon in the pan.

I never recovered from that. I’m sure I got a spanking, but I don’t remember it. All I recall was the thrill of having actually made something, even if it did age my mother’s new stove.

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