The Magical Mini-Me Meatball Tour

I’m at a vintage bookstore that sells used records and CD’s to buy another last-minute gift add on for my son’s endless birthday party weekend, despite his big brother constantly pointing out, “It’s not your birthday anymore. I don’t care how much Daddy is loving you more than me.  I bought John Lennon’s greatest hits on CD for 4 bucks, just so I could sample some John Lennon material on the owner like I just paid my one drink minimum for a Pap’s Blue Ribbon to do 4 minutes at the Eastville Comedy Club before becoming a full-time Stay-At-Comedian, 3 kids later and say, “On my Do It All Dad Year Podcast I state, I’ve written 4 books and recorded 400 plus podcast since my lucky number 3 was born. John Lennon wishes he was this productive during his stay-at-home dad years, after Paul McCartney shamed John Lennon into becoming a Stay-At-Home Dad from writing Hey Jude, to console his 1st abandoned son, he wanted nothing to do with before having his 2nd child Sean with Yoko, to give involved fatherhood another shot. Still, 2 minutes into a baby stroll throughout Central Park West, 1 day into playing the role of a loving, emotionally present, Stay-At-Home Dad, John Lennon screams up at the sky, “Choke on a fucking cucumber scone Paul.  All the Primal Scream Therapy isn’t helping.”

John Lennon experimented with being a vegetarian yet always found a way to sneak meat into his diet after realizing what havoc Yoko’s Bean Curd Smoothies did on his sex drive, exchanging his lost, druggy, groupie drilling years in LA in favor of snuggling Yoko on too much CIA secret stash strong ACID, delivered by Dr. Timothy Leary personally, to make it another merry free Christmas, and creepy conjuring new year. At the same time, John Lennon could’ve lived anywhere in the world, but chose Central Park West in the Dakota building instead, knowing any starving artist or not could afford a bowl of good spaghetti and meatballs at Carmines on Broadway after scrapping together enough bread.

I used to have lunch dates with a pretty girl from PA named Holly at Carmines and we’d split the meatball parm hero there, which was Big Pussy with bad back problems huge. The meatball hero was also served with a side of crispy yet light Cesar Salad with fresh baked croutons, tasting as polished distinguished as the sumptuous, moist throughout, ultra inhalatory, meatballs, begging to disappear in your belly within a NY minute.  Subway Meatballs these weren’t, because they were bigger, rounder, juicier balls of balling, big time pimping perfection. Now, sometimes softball size meatballs are a turnoff, if they remind of your putz prone dad staining his nice dress shirts again after work at hard 6:30 at the latest, during Kosher meatball and spaghetti night, only for your mom to blurt out again, “Steven, you stained your shirt again. Remind me again, why I converted to marry into this.” Only for my father to reply with, “Carol, if you never met me, you would’ve married some nerd, whose mother would’ve been intimated by your perfect MATH SAT score to.”

My ex-girlfriend who went to Columbia, introduced me to the meatball pie at Lombardi’s in SOHO when we visited my parents and friends back east during winter holiday break once after living together in West Hollywood for the past year. I was blown away, knowing no Turkey Meatball, drenched in delectable, never too syrupy rich, plum sauce from our nearby Gelson’s grocery store on Santa Monica Blvd. could ever match the vastly superior, air light might of these mini me meatballs ever.

When I lived in West Hollywood, I had my mom buy me the Soprano’s Cookbook and learned how real deal Italian meatballs, used a killer combination of ground pork, sirloin and veal while also using plum Roma Tomatoes to be later boiled and peeled after dropping them into a cold-water bath soon after to part the skins from their tender loving juiciness, itching to be unfurled with scatterings of peeled garlic and diced up fine shreds of Italian Parsley inside. I actually felt like a semi-functioning adult back then, going to the Farmer’s Market at the Grove to buy the different meats for Tony Soprano’s homemade meatballs versus splurging at the far pricier supermarket chain Bristol Farms, walking distance, not that anybody walks anywhere LA, from the 4 Seasons in Beverly Hills, because despite my rent controlled apartment on Harper Street in West Hollywood back then, my inner Jew couldn’t justify the more extravagant price point purchase just yet, despite shopping there more likely putting me in contact with George Plimpton loading up on more organic vanilla bean ice cream to serve Ronald Regan and Nancy after taking in a home screening documentary on Kurt Cobain triggering, Howdy Dowdy.  These meatballs, using the holy trinity of pork, veal and sirloin ground meat were so good, I shot off death stares at my ex-girlfriend, for offering my bountiful leftovers to her best friend from Bel Air, who was a member of the Nordstrom family, before they stopped selling Ivanka’s statuesque working girl shoes, because most yenta breaths in Manhattan failed to fill out her longer, shapely size lines, I guess.

I’ll still never forgive my dad, for dumping pounds of meatball heroes made for my Bar Mitzvah party by his close friend and famed chef of Bronx made fame, Carmine, who had nothing do with Carmines off Broadway outside of his artisan genius being lumped together with what native New Yorker’s considered a glamorized, middle America size catering, tourist trap, which is unfortunate because both restaurants make you proud to be a beneficiary of eastern standard, heartwarming, Italian American cooking again and again.  

Now, my daughter is taking weirded out bites from my homemade mini me reconstructionist meatballs to kickstart my son’s 4-year birthday weekend celebration in extra rollicking high gear, which used Rao’s Tomato Sauce to save me time, after sautéing these mini balled beauties in expensive, extra virgin olive oil, fresh chopped parsley and ample sprinklings of shaved garlic and red-hot chili pepper flakes, to take this Eastern standard spaghetti and meatball dish so much higher.  I can’t get mad at my daughter’s weirded out bites, despite me making them mini meatballs, so she wouldn’t be so freaked from staring down a fistful of cow at a time, knowing she’s only been eating Kosher meat, since my Koshertarian Comedian project to get my kids excited about giving the Koshtertarian Diet began.

I cooked the mini-me meatballs in the sauce under a low heat with the cover for a solid hour, which paid huge dividends, making it more than worth the weight, especially after I spot her younger brother, Arthur, hunched over in a perpetual, soul tantalizing, attack mode, uttering every other neat yet mountainous inhale, “This is really yummy daddy.”

Growing up, the Kosher Butcher store was always a turnoff because the Butchers there always seemed like they literally slept in raw pink meat. Now, that pubescent concern is a thing of the past, as I proceeded to finish off my mini me meatball birthday creation for breakfast and lunch the following the day to embrace reimaged eastern standard greatness and celebrate a newborn dad kind of love, offering the possibility of more success filled tomorrows, to make 2021 by most glorious year yet, back again, in a New York groove.  

Michael Kornbluth