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KPCC hosts, reporters share their favorite family food traditions

KPCC's Alex Cohen says her mom had lots of talents, but cooking wasn't one of them.
KPCC's Alex Cohen says her mom had lots of talents, but cooking wasn't one of them. "Her one dish was scrambled eggs, which she could never manage to pull off without getting shells in them."
Jacob Margolis

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Mother's Day is coming up next weekend. It's a time when a lot of people take mom out for dinner, but how do Southern Californians honor their moms through food? What cooking traditions do we pass on?

This Thursday, May 8, Off-Ramp producer Kevin Ferguson is going to moderate a panel of LA chefs and food writers at KPCC's Crawford Family Forum. But he got the conversation kicked off this week with some noteworthy names right here at KPCC.

Larry Mantle, Host of Airtalk

Let me just first say about my mother, the most amazing thing when it came to food is she could have a houseful of people come over for dinner. She's out entertaining the people, having a full-on conversation. Somehow the dinner would get done with her just popping in every now and then into the kitchen. And it'd be great! I don't know quite know how she did it. She was just totally connected with people as she makes things.

My favorite dish that she makes actually originated with her second husband, my step-father, and it's chicken piccata. It's just absolutely great; wonderful flavor to it. And when I go to her house for a birthday dinner, that's almost always my choice: chicken piccata, a pesto pasta that she makes that's just terrific. And that's my favorite things.

Wendy Lee, Business & Economics Reporter

My mom was a stay at home mom, so every night it was a home-cooked meal. To me, even though it wasn't a special occasion, anytime she made lumpia, that was a totally special occasion. I could smell the lumpia sizzling on the stove, and the smell of pork would kind of waft through the air. And I would be working on homework in my room, and I would think  "Is that lumpia?" And I would run over to the kitchen and be like, "Lumpia! Lumpia!" And my mom would be cooking it, and she'd be like "No, don't touch that, because that one's hot." And so she'd leave one set aside for me so I could eat before dinner.

Adrian Florido, Community Health Reporter

I think probably one of my favorite food memories is of my mom heating up tortillas in the kitchen, while my dad was sitting at the dining room table. She would be standing at the stove, over the comal, which is this flat griddle that most Mexican families use to heat up tortillas. They'd get really hot, and she wouldn't want to hold them in her hands too long so she'd just fling them across the kitchen, and across the dining room to my dad, like a frisbee. And he would catch them, and set them on his plate and eat them.

I just remember it being a really funny scene to always watch — because you would just see this mass of corn dough flying across the room. 

Alex Cohen, Host of Take Two

When it comes to favorite dishes growing up, I can't say that any of them actually came from my mother. I love my mom dearly, she's very talented in many ways. Cooking is not one of them. She and my dad actually made an agreement when they got married: she would take care of the cleaning, she would do most of the child rearing, but it was really up to my dad to cook. He is and was a fabulous cook — my mom, not so much. 

Her one dish was scrambled eggs, which she could never manage to pull off without getting shells in them. Which we still joke about to this day. But — she did actually — once when I was in college, I got mono. A really terrible case of it, my tonsils swelled up so big I could barely swallow. And she made eggplant lasagna, which she then proceeded to put in a blender so I could drink it out of a straw. And as disgusting as it sounds, it was actually really good at the time.