03 November 2009

By any other name - JCP


Salad Caprese, JPaulz, Charleston, S.C.

My sisters keep changing their names.

I'm one of eight kids, you know that. My ever practical parents didn't waste middle names on daughters. It was assumed that if and when we married we could simply take Perry as a middle name. My brothers got elaborate family names - James Murray, Robert Stewart, Roger Cameron Perry carrying on long lines of Scottish and Canadian ancestors.

I've been Joan Perry since I was born.

They didn't count on a lot of things. They took five daughters and three sons and raised us in one of the few matralineal societies in the world. In the Khasi tribe of North East India women own the property, the youngest daughter inherits and the children carry the mother's name. With that background it didn't make any sense to me to change my name when I got married. Besides a brief period when I was eleven and told everyone my name was Josephine (Little Women) I've been content with my short and simple name.

My sisters started doing odd things when they turned fifty. Grace added a "y" and announced she was now Grayce. Barbara started signing her name Barbra Rose. Third in line, I've let the team down. I haven't done anything creative yet besides add the occasional St. in front of my name for Halloween in honor of St. Joan. I work at a Catholic Hospital with floors named after saints and did campaign unsuccessfully to have our new fifth floor named after me. I mean named after her.

I should take a middle name of something I love......mushroom, blue, chocolate, avocado, muenster, maple butter, Johns Island tomatoes, tea, braised lamb. Let's make a drool causing name. Joan Maple Butter Perry?

I've decided. Caprese. I have been eating armfuls of fresh tomatoes this summer cut up with melt in the mouth buffalo mozzarella, fresh chopped basil leaves, a drizzle of olive oil and reduced balsamic. I eat it at home. I order it in every restaurant that mentions it. I slice it perfectly, I chop it madly. I use red tomatoes, orange, green and cherry.

Capreeeesay. You have to say it like an Italian and wave your arms to make the name flow.

Joan Caprese Perry. JCP for my monogram. Hint, hint.

When next you order insalata caprese, please say, "Hey! I know the lady who was named after that salad!"