Coming of age in Jersey meant you dated one of the 3 I’s: Italy, Israel or Ireland. Sometimes you’d get really lucky and date a combo like a Jewish-Italian guy. These cultures also had a strong impact on the local cuisine.
Every fall I crave Matzo ball soup and potato latkes, but it’s a rather specific craving. I don’t like the matzo ball soup with the noodles in it, just the one with the giant matzo ball that fills the entire cup with a few slices of carrot in it. And I take my latkes with sour cream and applesauce on the side. And, of course, what is life without a bagel? Oy vey!
But then I start thinking about other Jersey foods. The only real Irish food I miss is beer. Throw a stone in Jersey and you will hit some Irish pub named O’something complete with a blue eyed Irish lad full of very funny, very dirty jokes.
I miss that part of it too. The witty in-your-face banter that is totally fine. California is very PC and people only spoke about surfing or clothes or maybe real estate in the beach bars. I tried to have a discussion about the Iraq War back in 2002 and people looked at me like I was was crazy.
My favorite Jersey boys are Jon Stewart and Chris Christie. I know, I know, I’m a Democrat, why do I like Chris Christie? Because even though I completely disagree with his politics he’s real and genuine and I respect that. I also like that he has great smart ass comebacks. Example: At some town hall meeting Romney was speaking and people in the back started booing and said, “Romney is a job killer!” Romney said something like, ‘now, now, settle down, please.’ Chris Christie started speaking and the same people called out, “Christie is a job killer!” and without batting an eye he said, “Something might be going down tonight, sweetheart, but it ain’t jobs.” OH SNAP!
And then, my favorite, Italian influence. The pizza is different in NY and NJ. Jersey peeps don’t use a fork for pizza! The crust is hard on the bottom and you fold it in half until it cracks and then you let all the grease drip down on your paper plate. It sounds disgusting, I know, but trust me it’s the best pizza you’ll find anywhere on the planet.
Trenton (pronounced Tren-in) has a Little Italy filled with awesome restaurants and you can smell the tomatoes and mozzarella from your car as you get closer. Lasagna, fettuccine alfredo, Italian cheese cake, oh I could go on forever!
But my competition is in 5 weeks, so I’m not supposed to eat any of that. And it makes me sad because I’m realizing how much “home” is defined by food; right or wrong it is.
Hmm. Maybe I’ll figure out a way to ship some of it back to Austin. Or maybe I’ll just cheat?
What about you? Which foods remind you of your home?
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