Don't worry I am not about to share a recipe with you for Pickled Chicken Feet including close up shots of chicken feet floating in a brine of some sort. Instead I am going to share a little story.
The woman who has made me laugh the most in my adult life is by far my nona. At the ripe old age of 96 she still manages to have a positive outlook on life. Never taking things too seriously, feeling sorry for herself or getting angry when her memory fails her. Instead she has the remarkable ability of being able to laugh at herself.
This wasn't always the case. When I was younger and my mom would tell me we were going to Nona's for a week I would dread it. My nona was constantly yelling at me and my cousins. Phrases like 'you are in and out of the god damn house like yoyo's' was a memorable one that has stuck in my brain. She lived in a coal mining town and at night when it was bath time you could almost hear the horror movie music as her foot falls approached the bathroom door. You knew that in one hand was the Comet and in the other was the SOS pad or steel wool. She was convinced that regular old soap was not going to get our coal covered elbows and knees cleaned and would proceed to practically rub the skin right off of them.
She wasn't a very expressive woman and I remember my 'I love you's' garnering a 'me too' in response.
But then in her 60's she had to have bypass surgery (quadruple I think) and something inside my nona changed. She laughed more and now it is her that tells me she loves me first.
Over the years she has done many things that have made me laugh and I have shared the stories with friends so many times I am sure they are sick of hearing them. I have often thought I should start tweeting about 'Shit my Nona Says'. Well tonight was one of those moments.
Recently my nona moved out of the home that she has spent the last 70 odd years living in. A house that her husband Norino DePaoli built with his own hands. The basement not quite deep enough for a tall man to stand fully upright in because when you are digging it with only a shovel, it was deep enough! She is now in an old folk's home and sounds so happy. I called her tonight because I had tried to call her on Easter weekend but the woman is never in her room anymore. She is out walking the halls, playing bingo, having her nails painted or who knows what else she gets up to in there.
When she asked me what I was doing, I told her that I was making preserves and I started to tell her about the farmers market and the upcoming ' Made By Hand Show'. She sounded amazed that I was doing all of this work on top of having a full time job. This coming from a woman who for the first 80 years of her life had a hard time sitting still and worked harder than any other person I know.
She told me she knew what would sell the best. She claimed I would never be able to keep it on the shelves. Her tip for being a success was, you guessed it "Pickled Chicken Feet". She was adament and started to reminisce about how great they tasted. I tried to tell her that times had changed and her response 'oh, people wouldn't know what tasted good if it bit them in the ass'.
Point taken nona. If anyone has a recipe for Pickled Chicken Feet, I might just have to make a batch in honour of her!