Thursday, August 4, 2011

a grape big deal

On the morning of July 22, 2010, Dad got up early and make the stuffing for grape leaves. We had a lebanese dinner planned for that night! When Julie and I woke, travel worn and undoubtedly hungover tired, we got our kids up and encouraged them to join Jidoo in the kitchen for the traditional rolling of the grape leaves.
First Dad gave them a demonstration
  Then they stuffed and they rolled

and they stuffed

and they rolled
And then they showed off their masterpieces


When Dad fell ill that afternoon, we decided to postpone the dinner until the following night.

We stumbled back into the house sometime on Friday, July 23 in various states of incompetence. The food didn't matter, nothing mattered. Yet we didn't really know what we were supposed to do. We assigned ourselves tasks: I needed to get my husband on a flight, Ellie needed to clean a bathroom, mom needed to make kibbee. I can't remember what Julie was trying to do. The four of us spun in circles around each other and the kids and the phone calls and the visitors and the plans and the disbelief. Mom kept cooking. Somehow, on that night, we eventually sat down to a beautiful and presumably delicious lebanese dinner, without our lebanana.

So it seemed fitting that when we all planned to gather on the first anniversary of July stupid 23rd, we would have a lebanese dinner. We all joked about how it would be a lesser, pathetic attempt, but we also knew that it was a fitting tribute.

The first thing we needed to start cooking was... well.... Dad. The second most important thing was the grape leaves. As with many of his other precise procedural operations, Dad had a method of drying brined grape leaves to prepare them for stuffing. Mom had seen him do it a million times, but didn't take note of timing or something and the first attempt was a bust. Which opened the door wide for me to be a hero! You see, one of the very lovely elements of my workplace environment is what we lovingly refer to as "the grapehouse." It's just a framed playhouse, covered with... you guessed it... grape vines! And you know what grows on grape vines, don't you? GRAPES! Also grape leaves. Yay!

We had ourselves a mission of love.  

92 grape leaves, reporting for duty.

I washed and dried (ahem, Ellie) them, packed them into a zip lock bag and stored them in the freezer for one night before bringing them, in an insulated bag in my suitcase, to Mom's.

On the morning of Saturday, July Stupid 23rd, Julie and I once again gathered our various children in the kitchen for the traditional rolling of grape leaves. Dad wasn't there, but he had thoughtfully left a big bag of stuffing in the freezer for us, dated in his handwriting, July 22, 2010. Sigh.  

Julie gave my girl a demonstration

Then we stuffed

and we rolled

All of this, of course, briought back so many more sweet memories of demonstrations and stuffing and rolling with the man himself. Aw, dad.


Ach, girl belly

Stuffing and rolling. In jammies. Indescribable cuteness. Some things never change.

Ultimately, the bounty:

But first the obligatory reveal of one's most perfectly formed stuffed grape leave

Oh dear.
A lebanese dinner without dad. Another milestone achieved survived.
I really miss that guy.


Me, You, or Ellie said...

Aw Jacq. I love this. Love love love. I love all the years interspersed: 2011, 2010, 2007. And I didn't know *where* I was in that last photo until I realized it was the condo clubhouse.

It took me six hours to clean *two* bathrooms last July 23, thank you very much. And six hours for mom to make tabouli. And six hours for you to buy a plane ticket. And six hours for Julie to go on a run. And six hours for MB to get the cable fixed. But we did it, dagnamit.

And we did it this year too. Mistah and I arrived early Saturday morning -- only your girl was up -- and as each one of you and Julie and MB woke up, each one of you said, "We've got to roll the grape leaves! Mom said!"

I, too, have some awesome photos from rolling that morning. And I have the Uffie-dictated directions I must email to you all. But not having them, I must commend Julie for knowing we needed more crushed tomatoes in the mix . . .

And I must comment *you* for this fabulous post, Jacquie. I love it. And I love you. You are the Goddess of Awesomeness for bringing 92 grape leaves all the way from San Diego -- washed and *dried* and frozen.

Sigh. I really miss that Lebanana of ours too.


Mom C said...

I love this so much... Dad was a very diligent grape leaf roller, was he not? For a guy who loved to laugh he took this job very seriously. I sure miss that dumb face.... mom

hates loss in PA said...


Me, You, or Ellie said...

Oh, Jacquie, another awesome tribute! It's perfection.

Your dad was a man of so many, many talents! I myself love, love, love rolled grape leaves (although I always think Greek when I think of them -- don't let the Lebanana know.) That you now all have that talent/knowledge to do so yourselves -- how cool is that?! And that I know where to score some incredible grape leaves, so hardy that they can make it across country for a very important celebratory meal? Also quite cool.

Of course I am not surprised that you all rose to the occasion of preparing a Lebanese feast, stuffed grape leaves included -- I mean, you Coreys rock -- but thank you so for sharing it with us all!!

And although your kiddos are completely gorgeous now -- oh my! -- those photos from 2007?! "Indescribable cuteness" about sums it up.


Pickles and Dimes said...

I really love that you have this tradition to remember him by.

Me, You, or Ellie said...

I know, Beth. I *love* those wee wee children -- beyond adorable.

And I *love* seeing Dad just sitting there, in his kitchen.