The Meatball Identity

So today is my last day at my parents house in Florida, so mom made her signature meatballs and I made my signature homemade cavatelli pasta:

They’re both pretty exceptional. Mom’s meatballs are legendary in my family and they have been for 30 years. 

Enter: my cousin Bill.

Bill is a foodie- watches cooking shows, cooks a ton himself, some very fancy meals.  He knows his stuff. And he’s a knowitall in general. He comes over my parents fairly often and they bond over food. 

So he and Mrs Bill came over today to join in the meal and to help make it, or at least help me make the pasta (although to be honest we made WAY too much.)

Anyway, as Bill was helping in the kitchen, he was mentioning to mom that he has a meatball technique that takes longer to cook and he actually thinks his meatballs are even better than mom’s.


As he said it, everything was fine. BUT after they left… my parents spoke as if he told them that 2+2=giraffe. Or worse, that he stripped her of her gold medal from the 1000 meter Meatball Cooking event in the Food Olympics. 

Everybody in the family knows that mom’s meatballs sit atop the Meatball pyramid. Anything else does not compute… does not compute… does not compute… (smoke coming out of mom’s ears.)

Personally, I said “big deal, he likes his own meatball better than yours.”

Now my mom is very sensitive in her old age, this is true. I had not realized that this shook her to her very foundation. I’m sure Bill didn’t mean anything by it, but in her eyes, this was her domain and couldn’t he just give the old lady her due? It’s one of the only things she’s really proud of. As I see it, she’s 73 but still needs to feel like she has purpose and value. She does food really well. It’s really tied to her identity. It’s like telling Michael Jordan that he actually has six championship rings in tossing crumpled paper in the trash basket.

I know we’re obsessed with being the best in the USA, and his might be phenomenal but without realizing it, he went right for the jugular.

Oh well, more leftovers for me. 


  1. For being Italian, my family sucks. I don’t think I’ve ever had homemade meatballs or freshly made pasta. I’m going home on Saturday for a week. I might have to change this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Just never invite him to have meatballs with you guys anymore… One day he will miss them so much that he will come back begging for them… I agree, this thrive to always wanting to be the best in everything is sickening in many cases. Especially when good old tact and sensitivity fly out the window…

    Liked by 1 person

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