Maw Maw’s Naked Lady Bowls

17 11 2013

I love Thanksgiving and it’s traditions. I bring out dishes and silver that have been handled by so many loving hands in my family. I love the connection to the past and to the future.

My grandparents with their two small children moved from a small town in east Texas to south Louisiana in the 30’s. It must have been such a culture shock to all they knew. They came from white gravy and chicken fried steak and everybody being Baptist to a land of roux and gumbo and diversity and not everyone being Baptist.

My mom tells me she remembers asking her mother who those women were that wore long black dresses and covered their hair in a long black drape. She was told they were holy women. My mom thought that meant that the long black clothes were covering the holes in their body.

The Naked Lady Bowl
 naked lady bowl

My grandfather moved to Baton Rouge to be the advertising manager of the Coca- Cola Bottling Co. (It’s just dawning on me as I write this, the family heritage of being marketers…love that.) His boss was a sophisticated and learned man and was Jewish. He gave my grandfather a beautiful bowl set as a thank you for a job well done. It was a beautiful set with a large bowl with six smaller serving bowls. It’s bone china with gold inlay. It has Goddesses at play painted in the bottom of each piece.

That’s the part where I know it got complicated for my grandmother. You see, some of these goddess are bare breasted. I know my grandmother would have known the value of this gift. I can only imagine her Baptist horror over the nakedness of those ladies. This southern woman could never be anything but gracious over this generous gift. Her solution was to bring it out only at Thanksgiving and to keep the bowls filled with what else…Ambrosia…the food of the Gods.

A Tradition Continues
I will continue with that tradition this Thanksgiving. My 85-year-old mom will come over and supervise me making the fruit salad and be the official taster. My daughter will help as we peel the apples, juice the fresh lemons, add the bananas, oranges, pineapple, coconut and sugar to taste. I love that this recipe goes back to my great grandmother and has been passed down to four generations of daughters. The recipe is not written anywhere; making it together—mother to daughter, mother to daughter is how it is learned. Over countless conversations, laughter, teenage attitude at having to peel apples, it has been passed from one generation to another.

Priceless

This small bowl is chipped and glued together making it even more precious to me.

This small bowl is chipped and glued together making it even more precious to me.

This bowl set may be of some value. I sometimes imagine I could go on the Antiques Roadshow and be one of those people who gasp over how much it’s monetary value is. But I will never sell it. It’s not mine to sell. It’s my future great grandchild’s who I hope will still be making ambrosia that she learned from her mother and is teaching her daughter how to make. And will be putting it in the Naked Lady bowl.

Mother to Daughter
I am Connie Lee, mother of Jade Lee-Mei, daughter of Jimmie Dee, daughter of Jimmie Corrine, daughter of Minnie Mae.

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26 responses

17 11 2013
sulliv90

What wonderful traditions to pass on to your family Connie- it has made me think of those traditions we have in our family and love them even more. Great post! Virginia

17 11 2013
conniemcleod

Thanks Virginia, I love all the holiday traditions. It’s a wonderful connection to my past and my future.

17 11 2013
Sheryl

What beautiful bowls. So special that they’re handing down from generation to generation. Those are the things that are simply priceless.

17 11 2013
conniemcleod

They are indeed priceless to me. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and thanks for commenting.

17 11 2013
Lois Alter Mark

I love your Maw Maw stories — and those bowls are gorgeous. More to give thanks for this holiday.

17 11 2013
conniemcleod

Family, new friends and old friends, I have lots to be thankful for!

17 11 2013
Sherry Wilkes

I’m one of five in our family. After both parents were gone, so went our traditions. Mother always said, Don’t talk about religion or politics at the dinner table. She had a good point. Your ambrosia in the naked lady bowl story is so inspiring, I might just give it another try with the siblings this year. Thanks Connie. I always enjoy your writing.

17 11 2013
conniemcleod

Thanks Sherry. It’s worth the effort to try to connect with family. BUT it’s also understandable to not put yourself thru any pain. Good luck and thanks for reading.

17 11 2013
Pat hanchey

Love your story! Traditions are the best! You have some great ones! Thanks for sharing!

17 11 2013
conniemcleod

Thanks Pat, I hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday;

18 11 2013
joyweesemoll

Love this! What a beautiful tradition and such a great family story to go with it.

I wrote about naked ladies today, too, in a completely different context! Nudes in France.

18 11 2013
conniemcleod

Gotta love naked ladies!!

18 11 2013
Pam@over50feeling40

I love your naked lady tradition! I have one bowl handed down from my Grandmother which is always used for cranberry sauce…don’t know why…but it has never been allowed to hold anything else!. Happy Thanksgiving!

18 11 2013
conniemcleod

We don’t have to understand why we have some traditions, just enjoy them. Thanks for stopping by!

18 11 2013
apleasanthouse

I love traditions like this one Connie. I also, will be bringing out the family silver for Thanksgiving.But I think the most impressive thing about this post are the names- Minnie Mae! I love it!!!

18 11 2013
conniemcleod

Good ole southern names! I guess that’s another tradition.

19 11 2013
haralee

A great family tradition of the dish and the dish! How about your Ambrosia Recipe? I swear I have never had a good one!

22 11 2013
conniemcleod

Haralee, it’s a simple recipe. 4 apples (peeled), 4 oranges, 4 bananas, 1 can crushed pineapple, as much coconut as you want to put in it. Sugar and fresh lemon juice to taste. Serve with whipped cream or cool whip.

21 11 2013
Estelle Sobel Erasmus

Connie, What a beautiful bowl. I think that your grandmother would be proud to know the tradition she started with her ambrosia and naked lady bowl!
Estelle

22 11 2013
conniemcleod

Estelle, I believe she would love that she lives on in the tradition.

24 11 2013
kaylynnweightchronicles

What beautiful bowls. I have a set of relish plates that belonged to my great-grandparents and feel the same way about them you do about the bowls.

27 11 2013
conniemcleod

Thanks, I love and treasure them.

28 11 2014
Shannon Bradley-Colleary

Okay, now all of a sudden I want my very own naked lady bowl. Starring me, of course. Typical. Fun post.

28 11 2014
conniemcleod

Thanks Shannon, I absolutely believe you should star in your own set of naked ladies bowls!

28 11 2014
bodynsoil

I love your grandmother’s solution to the naked women, cover them up of course, with ambrosia.. LOL..

28 11 2014
conniemcleod

My uncle told me he wasn’t allowed to eat out of them when he was a boy!

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