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May 05, 2005


Gee Mom, Mother's Day is this Sunday and I'm supposed to do a tribute to Mom's and their cooking everywhere. But I'm at a loss to cite you as an inspiration for making me the inveterate foodie I've become. When I think of growing up, many food epiphanies occur to me, but most are restaurant related, like the crabmeat in a sherry-butter sauce I had at Antoine's in New Orleans in 1964 -- I still remember the oval sterling silver serving dish it came in, and how the big chunks of snow-white crabmeat sat in the bubbling sauce. My mom still likes to tell the story of how I took a couple of bites and asked her: Why don't you cook like this?'

Well the way she did cook was somethin' else. Beef BBQ-which was essentially chunks o' beef crock potted to death with ketchup and brown sugar, pork chops baked in ketchup with a lemon slice on top, and fish sticks. Boy was my Mom BIG on Mrs. Paul's fish sticks. To this day I hate Mrs. Paul's Fish Sticks. That might've been our weekly fare, but Sunday's were special days. Then we got Dad doing the cooking, which was almost as bad as Mom, except at least he had the good sense to stick with pancakes and waffles always cooked beside the kitchen breakfast table. To this day I wonder if any other family in America, growing up in the mid-nineteen-sixties, had a mom and a dad who were enamored of a portable griddle thing they proudly placed beside the family table where they could cook flapjacks to order for their starving kids.

But ignorance is bliss and growing up then didn't exactly whet the palate for the good stuff. Julia Child might've been big in Boston, but no one in Orlando Florida had heard of her in 1965...and the three TV channels would only advertise edibles like Swanson's frozen dinners or Jolly Green Giant canned corn, if they mentioned food at all.

But my Mom, being a product of the Depression, and having watched her Mom slaving away at a stove for all those years, was glad to be liberated from the drudgery of rolling out dough, shelling peas, or plucking chickens. Frozen food meant freedom, and no one thought any worse of it for having a dinner that began with the pulling back of an aluminum tab revealing a mushy, freezer-burned unrecognizable turkey breast. I do kinda fondly remember there was something contained in a tiny triangle at the top of the tray that was the only thing that had any flavor. Then and now, though, no matter what it tasted like, it was special because she was in the same room, serving it to us.

So happy Mother's Day to all of you Moms--whether you're a good cook or not......Because to this day, I'll swear that my Mom, Marcella 'Call me Ruth' Schroader Curtas, makes the best bowl of Cheerios with a sliced banana on top, in the whole world.

See discussion rules.


Nov 24, 2010 | Thanksgiving 2010 - Another Beanie Reveal
John Curtas delves into family history to discover the real story behind Grandma Schroader's Sour Beans.

Nov 19, 2009 | Valentino -- You don't know the truffles I've seen
According to Food Critic John Curtas, no other Italian restaurant in Las Vegas has performed at such a high level for so long.

Oct 1, 2009 | Blow It Up
In at least one part of town, our dining critic John Curtas says the food used to be a lot better.

Sep 25, 2009 | Social Media Meltdown
For our dining critic, John Curtas, social media has started to intrude on dining out.

Sep 2, 2009 | Discovering LOS ANTOJOS
Our dining critic John Curtas finds a new affordable favorite.

Aug 20, 2009 | Chinois R.I.P.
For John Curtas the recent closing of Wolfgang Puck's first Las Vegas restaurant brings back memories.

Aug 3, 2009 | Food, Inc.
John Curtas turns movie reviewer today - but the subject is in his usual area of expertise. Hear his review of "Food, Inc."

Jul 16, 2009 | The Steak That Saved Las Vegas
Dining critic John Curtas finds some steak aged for EIGHT MONTHS and he tells us how it tastes.

Jul 2, 2009 | Bang for Your Buck
Everyone's food budget is tighter these days. But if you still want to dine out now and then, our dining critic John Curtas has a few tips on restaurants now giving you more bang for your buck.

Jun 19, 2009 | Whassup with Wazuzu
Explore Dining Critic John Curtas' love/hate relationship with Wazuzu. If you want to spice up your dinner go for at least a "4 or 5."

Jun 12, 2009 | Two Farmer's Markets
Fresh, locally produced food has become a big trend across the U.S. Our food critic, John Curtas, says there's more of this trend in Las Vegas than you might think.

Jun 4, 2009 | MandM Soul Food
John Curtas tells us about one of his favorite dining spots - a surpsingly affordable one.

May 28, 2009 | Checkpoint Charlie
While fine dining has seen a downturn in Las Vegas in recent months, our dining critic John Curtas says at least one dining legend intends to stay put. Charlie Trotter is standing pat in Las Vegas. John Curtas reviews Resturant Charlie.

May 8, 2009 | Food Festival Frenzy!
It's a time of many food festivals in Las Vegas. John Curtas has an overview.

May 5, 2009 | Peppermill Coffee Shop and Fireside Lounge
A landmark Las Vegas restaurant gets a visit from John Curtas. He takes you to the Peppermill.

Apr 23, 2009 | Thai Me Up Thai Me Down
Thai cuisine is starting to show up in more places in Las Vegas. John Curtas has some recommendations

Apr 9, 2009 | A Gourmet Corner - In Spring Valley?
Food Critic John Curtas takes a trip to the strangest gourmet corner in town.

Apr 2, 2009 | Pip's is a Pip
If you're looking for good dining near Aliante, our dining critic, John Curtas, has found a new place to go.

Mar 26, 2009 | Stripped to Its Bare Essentials
Dining on steak at Planet Hollywood! John Curtas takes you along.

Mar 19, 2009 | Hachi is absolutely amazing!
John Curtas has a find - a Japanese-fusion restaurant on the west edge of the city.

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