boatOur friend, Duddy, got the ball rolling on this Jersey Shore extravaganza after his visit to our house last October. Our kids pretty much line up and his short stay in our chaotic house somehow led him to believe that our families could spend a few days together in relative harmony. He and Dash planned it all out and before I knew it, we were en route to Saucy-licious’ parents’ beautiful beach house in Avalon, New Jersey. I had a teensy bit of trepidation descending on poor Saucy-licious, seeing as we really didn’t actually know each other very well. She and I had met but thrice: at our wedding, their wedding and our friend Philo’s wedding. I’d say she was very brave indeed to agree to this. She’s obviously a girl whose willing to take a gamble based on her hubby’s whim and you gotta love that.

Hanging out with Duddy, Saucy-licious, her sister (Little J), Little J’s boyfriend Shrimp-Boy and their friends Sweet Scissors, Little A, and a bevy of Mikes, was nothing short of revelatory. Suddenly, in the midst of this big Italian family, I felt like I fit in. Hey people! It’s not me, it’s Minnesota! No wonder! This explains everything! Elbow to elbow with this colorful and sweet group of gourmets, bon vivants and foxy chicks, I’m suddenly not the one with the loudest laugh or the most Italian looking or the one with the tightest jeans or the biggest cocktail ring! (I was actually regretting not having packed some of my big rings, but who knew I would be needing them at the beach?!) I felt like I’d come home! Maybe it’s because a big Argentine family is nothing but a short ship’s voyage away from a big Italian family. Maybe it’s because Detroit really has a more East coast vibe than Minneapolis, especially when you creep into the tony suburbs from where I hearken. Or maybe Duddy is just a genius and knew it was going to work. 

And little did I know that I was going to be getting my dancin’ fix on this trip. My new found best peeps took me to my new found fave bar in the world: The Princeton. What a trip! It’s basically a huge house with five distinct bars chocked to the rafters with revelry and mayhem. And the people watching is PHENOMENAL! It’s like a giant, labrynthian roller rink – you cruise in a huge circle, dancing and shimmying as you go, stopping to bust a few cool moves in a whatever spot you happen to catch your favorite song. One of the rooms always has a live band and Saucy-licious expertly manoevered us to the front, center stage, right up at the bar and hoooooooooo mama, did we have a good time! Great cover band, mucho dancing, ringing ears, base in the ribcage, the works. Ridiculously fun. 

kidsThe kids got along swimmingly and came and went as a little pack – a cute and chatty amoeba. They hunted for tadpoles, threw their tiny bodies up against the crushing surf, ventured out at night with head lamps and flashlights in search of crabs, giggled in their bunks late into the night and generally had the run of this little piece of kid-heaven. mikejr Supergirl, Mini-Saucy, and Hello Kitty braved the cold waters of the Atlantic and body surfed their faces off – tough chickies. Duddy and Saucy-licious’ son, Huggy Bear, had an endearing habit of throwing his arms around Saint James and pulling him around by the shoulders. Saint James might have shrugged him off a couple times, but he was pleased as punch to be pampered by his new protector, guide and all around awesome friend. The two of them even went on an adventure to an arcade! Ten blocks, on bikes, cash in their pockets and freedom, sweet sweet freedom trailing behind them like streamers in the wind. 

suzcookingAs for us, we feasted, drank and laughed like kings. I would happily hang out in the kitchen with these folks all damn day and night, gabbing and drinking and watching them cook. (Saucy-licious had a gigantic pot of the most beautiful red sauce bubbling away on the stove when we walked in and my mission in life is to recreate it when I get home – meatballs, pork ribs and all). The Duddys are masters of the concoctions (solid, liquid and in-between) and they are forever puttering around the kitchen mixing together some sort of tasty libation or tender vittle. Almost nothing goes untouched by them. Whether it’s Seltzer water amped up with a little sour cherry syrup, or homemade chocolate made with coconut oil, or virgin Piña Coladas, or Cioppino, or pancakes, or meatball sandwiches, or Latin pork pernil, or Saucy-licious’ red sauce. There is always a way to make something more tasty by throwing a little love at it and this is what they do best. I picked up many a trick, tip and recipe in the tornado of deliciousness that seems to hover around the kitchen at all times. eggsI even have some seeds for these beautiful peppers called Ancient Sweets that Saucy-licious slowly sauteed in olive oil until they turned into sweet summer goodness in a pan. (Apropos of the whole seed thing, I remember my mother smuggling parsley seeds from Argentina because the parsley available in Michigan in the seventies was not up to snuff).

If food equals love, then I feel like I just got dipped and breaded and lightly sauteed in a whole heckuvalotta love. In fact, I’m bringing a little five pound paunch home with me as a souvenir to prove how much they love me.

Thank you, dear friends, for your warm and easy hospitality. And thank you for more belly laughs and tasty bites than we could ever begin to count. What a blast!


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