Tales From A Hungry Life

April 18, 2013

Let’s Eat, Part 4

By Maria Schulz

Happy Anniversary to Tales From a Hungry Life

Happy Anniversary to Tales From a Hungry Life

Happy Anniversary! Yes, I just celebrated my 3rd year of blogging and the creation of my Tales of A Hungry Life blog. So what have I learned in my 3rd year of blogging?

  • Blogging will not make me a millionaire, even by accident. I can’t tell you how many people tell me about their friend of a friend who got 12,000,000 hits writing a blog about the many uses of soy, and now gets advertising up the ying yang. Even better are the stories of 14 year olds who are independently wealthy thanks to their blog on “1,000 Ways to Make Soup.” They end the stories with, “So are you rich yet?” Um, no

    Who wants to be a millionaire?

    Who wants to be a millionaire?

  • People don’t really like leaving comments. I wish they would, but it’s kind of like inviting people to your house for a party—and demanding that they tell you how great you are. Sure, it seems like a wonderful reason for a party, but if you force it, no one will ever come back.
  • I used to think I would run out of blog ideas, but that hasn’t happened so far. Even my worst days include something that makes me laugh. The silver lining is that when something goes really wrong, I think: BLOG POST!
  • Doing something scary can be good. While I have not yet cracked the traditional publishing houses, I have 60+ posts to my name thanks to the “Publish” button on WordPress.com. Sweet!
  • I may still be too shy to stand in front of an audience and tell jokes, but I’m not too shy to write what I think is funny and share it with the world.
  • Some people will never like my blog. I have gotten comments that claimed my writing made them want to drink and that my ideas are too vanilla. As I’ve said before, my writing makes me want to drink, and I like vanilla.
  • The flip side of that is getting comments from people who have been full of encouragement. Suzanne, Neil, BGLou, Lisa, Turafish, Lexiesnana, Tony, Kathie, Chris, Anne, TC, John, Cindy, Cora, WordImprovisor, Stacy, Karen and everyone else who has ever left me a comment, thank you for all of the kind words of encouragement.
  • The world can be heartbreaking sometimes, but my blog doesn’t have to be. I hope you can come here to find a laugh or two, and leave with a smile.

I wrote 20 posts in the last 12 months. Here are my top five posts from last year:


12 Things My Teachers Taught Me: Let Sister Pit Bull eat cake, it’s easy to be kind, use your critics’ comments to become a better writer, and never turn in junk. I had great teachers (Mr. Reines, Mr. Brodsky, Sister Barbara) and not-so-great teachers (Sister Pit Bull, Sister Margaret, Sister Clara), and every single one of them made me a better person…whether they wanted to or not. I think our teachers are undervalued and blamed when they should be esteemed and supported. After all, don’t we want them to succeed?

My Bucket List: Once I knew that the Mayans had declared December 21, 2012 the end of the world, it was time to create my bucket list. From hiring a personal chef to forming my own tiny person’s basketball league (hey! I finally get to play center), I wrote down all the things I wanted to do in life. I would love interviewing Kristin Stewart, even if all I have is a banana for a microphone.

The Next Big Thing: another writer tagged me and I had to answer interview questions about my writing projects. It was a riot thinking about what makes me tick as a writer, and even more fun to see the comments people had for me. I thoroughly enjoyed my “Mariah Carey/Barbara Walters moment.”

Mayans, Memories & Manicottis: this was the recap of all the things I accomplished (or didn’t) on my Bucket List, now that the world did not end. I made Manicottis! I ripped all the tags off my pillows! And no, I am still not a center on a little person’s basketball league.


Roger Ebert & Me:  this was my latest post, and one I thoroughly enjoyed writing. It brought me back to the days of watching Siskel & Ebert, going to the movies, and spending time with my grandmother. Those are just a few of my favorite things, and I got to enjoy them all thanks to those two movie critics. Plus, I got to think about my Heaven: which movie is my favorite, and which ice cream I can eat endlessly and never gain a pound. Hey! It is Heaven after all.

Finally, to celebrate my Anniversary, I decided to cast a new show starring the lovable Lagalantes and their extended relatives. We had Lagalante: The Movie, a movie starring Terri Garr as my mother and Rosie O’Donnell as Sister Clara; Lagalante: The Musical starring Angelina Jolie as me (it is my show); and now: the audience participation vehicle that travels to beaches all around the country. It’s called “Now You’re My Cousin.”

Sssh. The show's starting.

Sssh. The show’s starting.

It’s sort of like Tony & Tina’s Wedding, only you don’t have to get dressed up to come. You should wear flip-flops, a bathing suit & sun block. The cost of admittance is a ticket (duh) and a covered ethnic dish that is completely inappropriate for the beach. Think lasagna, peppers and eggs, paella, kielbasa, flan, etc. Don’t come empty-handed, or the cast will tease you relentlessly for the duration of the show. Come to think of it, you will probably be teased relentlessly anyway. But still…bring food.

The play is set in the early 1970s. Since everyone is a LOT younger, we will need an entirely different cast.

DAD: Matthew Broderick (yes, I cast him as Tony in the musical; but he and my Dad can easily be played by the same person)

The cast from Modern Family

Mom: Gloria (from Modern Family)

Jude: any rock-n-roll kid that dresses like Jimi Hendrix

Tony: Harry Potter look alike

Louie: Drake Bell look alike

Paul: younger version of Hayley’s boyfriend from Modern Family

Joe: a look alike for the brother on The Wonder Years

Chris: a Fred Savage look alike (the kid from the Wonder Years—okay, I’ve been watching a lot of Modern Family & The Wonder Years)

Maria: a big-mouthed precocious Disney kid who is blond and gorgeous (this is a fantasy, after all)

Nonie: Nancy Walker look-alike

Uncle Don: Paul Lynde look alike

Hot, hot, hot

Hot, hot, hot

The cast above will immediately start pulling lucky guests from the crowd to play our cousins. When they slap a name tag on you, you must act the following way for the duration of the day:

COUSIN RICHARD must throw COUSIN ELLIE into any nearby body of water (pool, ocean, baby pool, large puddle, etc.) all day long

COUSIN BOB must attempt to teach Maria how to swim by holding her head under water, risking possible drowning

COUSIN LORRAINE must hold up seaweed to her face and pretend she has sneezed. Repeatedly. She must run after the children and pull this gag often

COUSIN PETE should sing Perry Como songs. An audience member who looks and sounds like Perry Como should play this part

COUSIN ANGELA must laugh at everything Dad says and say, “Oh Junior! You’re such a troublemaker!”

COUSIN SAMMY should try to proposition all of his female cousins, especially the ones under the age of 12

This is what we looked like

This is what we looked like

COUSIN TOMMY must seek out Chris, and the two must talk about music. They must exclude Maria because girls are dumb. Thankfully, Tommy will redeem himself years later by going to the prom with Maria (this is a different play set in the 1980s)

COUSIN MARY tries to feed everyone she can find. Her cooler contains lasagna, eggs and peppers, eggs and sausage, cake, cookies, beer, soda, home made wine, milk and Bosco. She is constantly laughing.

COUSIN PETE tries to teach everyone how to play bocce. He is patient and kind, and it takes him forever to complete any game of bocce

COUSIN SAL tries to get Pete to stop pulling strangers into the game.

The Lagalante boys will all get into trouble; stealing beer, throwing Paul off the swings, jumping off the see saw while small kids are on it with them, chasing sea gulls, etc.

A special guest appearance features SISTER CLARA (Rosie O’Donnell, in a habit and granny bathing costume from the 1900s). She is there to make sure none of the kids have too much fun.

SISTER MARY ELAINA/ANGIE also shows up (played by Charlotte from Sex in the City) wearing a habit and a bikini. Sister does not know if she wants to be a nun or a layperson; she talks about this with everyone who will listen, including other “cousins,” old and young alike.

The dialog will be improvised and include constant yelling. Lots of grills will be going, music will be blasting, and our crowd will take up all of the tables, the bocce court, and the adjoining basketball and baseball fields. If people who aren’t a part of the show try to use any of these things, we will yell at them until they run away.

The play starts at 8 am and ends at 6 pm. Be ready to eat a lot, drink a lot, swim a lot, yell a lot, and go home fat, drunk, hoarse and sunburned.

Want to come?

So good

So good


Chicken Cutlet Parmesan Hero

What—you don’t consider this beach food?


And here’s one from Rachel Ray:


Wrap multiple sandwiches in tin foil and put them in your cooler. Make sure you bring enough to share with dozens of others. Then head on over to “Now you’re My Cousin.” Don’t forget your ticket and a bottle of aspirin.

So, Hungry Lifers: which post of mine did you enjoy most this past year? What will you bring to “Now You’re My Cousin?” Do you like vanilla? Leave a comment below (or not) and let us all know. Thanks again!



  1. So funny! Congrats on your anniversary. I’ve enjoyed reading (and commenting!) on all of your posts. The “cousins” concept for a play is hilarious. Get on that idea!

    Comment by Lisa — April 18, 2013 @ 8:33 am | Reply

    • Will you make a covered dish and join me at the beach? I think we would have a blast! Thanks for always reading and commenting.

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — April 26, 2013 @ 9:57 pm | Reply

  2. First of all, happy anniversary! To think 3 years ago today I didn’t know that every so often I would be so excited when I opened my email and saw “tales from a hungry life”. That is how I feel when I see that you have written something new. So, thank you. I think you should have a party and tell everyone they have to come and say nice things about you. Come on, that would be funny. Just don’t give one person an idea what it’s about. Everyone else will have poems ready and short stories and that one person will not have anything prepared and we can laugh at them.

    Ok, I call I’m cousin Lorraine! I do that anyway so why not! All those descriptions of cousins made me laugh out loud! There are a lot I can identify with that I will tell you at lunch.

    So, thank you for making me always smile, constantly laugh and for keeping my memories alive by you sharing yours!!!!

    Comment by Suzanne Tavel — April 18, 2013 @ 8:40 am | Reply

    • Awww, Suzanne, your comments are as much fun as any of my blog posts. I think you would make a great Cousin Lorraine. I’ll help you gather the seaweed. Thanks for telling me that you love seeing “Tales From a Hungry Life” in your inbox. Sometimes, I wonder if anyone would notice or care if I stopped blogging. But then I think…SUZANNE IS DEPENDING ON ME! Thanks again for being one of my biggest supporters.

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — April 26, 2013 @ 10:00 pm | Reply

  3. Happy Anniversary! And many more!!

    Comment by Clippings In The Shed... — April 18, 2013 @ 9:12 am | Reply

  4. Mathew Broderick? Come on now! A Robert Mitchem look a like would be better. The play, or was it a movie? sounded like a fourth of July or Labor Day at Manorhaven Beach with no one in the muddy, slushy water until high tide. By the way your movie would get two thumbs up from Roger & Gene, may they rest in peace. Three years blogging and good blogging at that. Keep it up even if the Publishers don’t come your way because eventually your writing will catch their eyes because you are good!

    Comment by Bglou — April 18, 2013 @ 10:12 am | Reply

    • I needed to pick an actor to portray you who would have a sense of humor AND be able to pull off wearing that plaid bathing suit and saying things like: “Do you like my suit? I wore this on my honeymoon 20 years ago — and it still fits!” If we could stage the play at Manorhaven, that would be perfect!!! If and when the publishers start calling, you will be among the first to know!

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — April 26, 2013 @ 10:04 pm | Reply


    Your cousin Bob was sneakier than my cousin, Anthony. With Anthony, there was constant dunking— no pretense about teaching one to swim.

    As always, I thank you for the laughter—even before you got to the cousins. I see your millions barraging you now; you’ll be trying to walk in a hurricane of millions— the cousins reality show will be syndicated. Bay Watch will be put in the grave.

    If you’re not ready for stand-up, I say, read aloud. Be a Cyrano for yourself.

    Thank you for always providing a bit of heaven on earth, always needed, and especially this week.

    And I’m sure some of those cousins up there chuckled along with me.

    And as for the reader who said your writing serves as a catalyst for needing a drink, I recommend bottoms up first—prior to reading—- obviously needed & having nothing to do with your blog.

    Anyway, I had a drink today right before reading, water with lime. It’s somewhat like a Dr. Oz recommendation, only without the kale, mint, cucumber, vinegar, etc.

    Keep writing, Maria!!! Whether I comment or not. It is your destiny, divine providence, and the wishes of your father & me—someday, we’ll meet.


    PS I know, a comment does not equal a novella.

    Comment by cora cataffo — April 18, 2013 @ 4:29 pm | Reply


      My cousin Bob was not sneaky at all. He is still proud of his teaching skills. The fact that I didn’t actually drown is proof to him that his methods worked. Sorry about your cousin Anthony. Dunking is never fun for the dunkee, only the dunker.

      I think the beauty of my cousins play is that it can play in theaters around the world. Just change the covered dishes and the cousins’ names, and you’re set.

      No stand up for me, and wow! I hope my cousins up there are all laughing and cheering me on. I wish they would contact some publishers on this side for me. 🙂

      I will keep writing! And my father is getting quite a following from this blog.

      P.S. I love novellas.

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — April 26, 2013 @ 10:10 pm | Reply

  6. Maria the relatives you described capture many people in any family at any period of time. Coming from such a large extended family I sometimes forget the personalities of the people who helped shape us (like the teachers, but you never graduate from their class until they die, and even then their lessons still show up in our lives). As I read what you wrote I almost smelled the food at the beach and heard aunt Mary laughing. I sometimes think of how the generations that have come after ours are missing out on the good things in life, like food that taste good but is not necessary good for you. Family can be that way too. Too much can leave you frustrated with the people you love (everyone knows what I am taking about), but then when they are gone it is what sustains you like a bear’s hibernation. When there is a long absence of family interaction we tend to want to gorge ourselves with their presence because we miss the people who have a history with us. After reading your blogs I am good till the next meal.

    Comment by Tony Lagalante — April 26, 2013 @ 8:47 pm | Reply

    • Just the thought of Aunt Mary laughing makes me smile! I’m glad I transported you back. How did you like the nuns who appeared? Or Matthew Broderick as Dad? Thanks for chiming in!

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — April 27, 2013 @ 5:41 pm | Reply

  7. Maria have you considered the guy who played the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld as an alternative choice to play Chris? How about Little Steven for your Dad?

    Comment by John Wagner — April 29, 2013 @ 7:45 pm | Reply

    • When I saw you commented, I was wondering if you were going to ask why Cousin John wasn’t mentioned! As far as your suggestions go, I will not comment about casting for Chris. He is already mad that I casted John Cusack! And I’m unfamiliar with Little Steven. Perhaps you can handle the casting on the West Coast?

      Comment by talesfromahungrylife — May 2, 2013 @ 9:46 pm | Reply

  8. I think Peter Boyle is the perfect fit to play Lou aka Jr..

    Comment by Eleanor — January 29, 2014 @ 3:02 pm | Reply

    • unfortunately one of them is dead.

      Comment by Bglou — January 29, 2014 @ 3:59 pm | Reply

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