I decided to do something a little different for my mom this past Christmas.  She’s someone who really doesn’t “want” things, or “need” things.  “I don’t need that… the one I have is fine,” she’d say.  “I’m sure whatever you get me I’ll like because it’s from you.”  Spoken like a true mom, right?  So instead of something, I thought I’d get her an experience.  I decided on a cooking class at a fancy restaurant.  It just so happened that she had the same gift idea for me… at the same restaurant!  Awww… how about that?  My mom and I are going to cooking class together.  We haven’t done that since I was nine years old.  I guess Aya knew the whole time, but she didn’t let on.  The restaurant we ended up at was Pronto in Royal Oak.  The class we decided to take was scheduled in March and was called, “Island Fever – A tour of the Greek Islands – Mediterranean Flair -Simple but never plain!”

We knew the class was just a demonstration, not a full blown wear your own apron while you chop onions type class.  Either way, I was still pretty psyched about the class.  I don’t know too much about how to cook with “Mediterranean Flair,” but I know I like to eat it.  When my mom came to pick me up I felt like we were going to the Mother Son Banquet at school.  And so to keep with that feeling, I let her drive while I played with the radio.  And after I asked what she wanted to listen to, I got the typical, “I don’t care, whatever you want,” response.  Aren’t moms great?  I spared her the Van Halen Guns N’Roses medley though and went with something a little more mellow.

It’s funny when you’re a teenager driving with your mom in the car.  You are always defensive and hate her telling you want to do.  “Slow down, you’re breaking too hard.  Use you turn signals.”  Gosh mom!  Let me drive! I’d reply.  And here we were, many years later; my mom driving and me being the backseat driver.  You know you can pass that guy.  We don’t need to turn for a while, you can stay in this lane.  Whoa, these brakes are kind touchy aren’tthey?  You know you can go faster right? Somehow, we still managed to get there on time.

The classes were held not at the restaurant, but at their commissary kitchen off the beaten path somewhere.  When we came in we were greeted and guided to the kitchen area.  It was not like being at a cooking show.  It felt like the kitchen was in a corridor with just a few rows of chairs in front of a preparation table with a bright fluorescent light overhead.  It quickly seemed like everybody there were regulars, so my mom and I were the new kids.  There was Edna, who told the class about how her large old husband got locked out of their room nude on a cruise after a night of drinking.  Then there was this guy that looked like Truman Capote who was there with his wife.  He had on a light colored linen suit with a periwinkle tie and matching handkerchief.  They had missed a few classes, so they were welcomed back.  Then there were a few groups of girlfriends, and a few mother daughter pairs.  They all new each other’s names and were joking with the chef.  Then there was my mom and me.  Sitting there quietly, smiling politely.  Everybody was drinking wine and chatting, and we had our notebooks and pens ready to take notes.  Where is everybody’s notebook?  Why isn’t anybody else nervously writing anything down?

It seemed like most of the class was the staff and the guests telling stories.  The assistant would be telling stories about the drama that happened in his neighborhood with the Police, and then the chef would give a snarky comment asking ifhe’d shut up so he could continue.  It was a really relaxed and casual atmosphere.  In addition to the entertainment, we got to eat everything they made, which was awesome.  First, we had a Greek Caponata followed by a butterflied chicken baked Greek style.  Then we had pork tenderloin marinated in garlic, lemon, and oregano, served on a Greek salad.   After that, we had a Greek orzo and grilled shrimp salad with a dill mustard vinaigrette, which was my favorite.  To cap everything off, we were treated to some kind of torte cake.  Okay, maybe that was my favorite.  My mom died inside when she saw someone throw most of theirs away.  We are mother and son, afterall.

I don’t think we learned much but it was highly entertaining.  I’m not sure I’d do the cooking class there again, but I definitely plan on eating at this restaurant.

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