Aprons can be frilly; they can have ruffles. They can be a simple white, a work of art, or have quotes emblazed across them. Aprons come in all shapes and sizes and are made of all kinds of materials. They can be used for cooking, cleaning, working on art projects, or even working in the garage. Aprons are useful in keeping your clothing clean or even protecting the person from serious injury. There are even euphemisms tied to the wearing of aprons and either cutting or hanging onto their strings. All in all, no matter what their use, aprons are functional and practical and, clearly, have many uses.
I hung on my grandmother’s apron strings when I was a child and watched her cooking in the kitchen. She was 100% Italian and a fantastic cook. She would spend hours in the kitchen concocting dinner or baking. I especially remember loving Christmas because she would bake these delicious cookies called Pastachelles which would involve three days of hard core apron wearing. The end result of all this labor was a kitchen covered in flour, an exhausted woman, whose clothes were clean as she had worn an apron after all, and a delectable treat of deep fried cookies filled with honey, chocolate, and my grandmother’s love. My grandmother has been gone for almost 25 years, and each Christmas my mom and I swear to each other that next Christmas we will resurrect the Pastachelles. We haven’t done that yet, but maybe one day.
Men also wear aprons. I hung on my grandfather’s apron strings when I watched him work in the garage. He taught me how to use a hammer and nails, and even allowed me to use the power drill occasionally under his close supervision. In order to demonstrate my ability with hammer and nails, I remember building a dog out of two by fours nailed together. I even drew a nose and eyes on the top of it and proudly showed it to him. My grandfather looked at me with a smile, and patted me on the head saying “That’s nice, dear,” and continued on with his project, which was an elaborate bench that he was building for my grandmother.
In present day, the one man whose apron strings that I would love to hang onto is Gordon Ramsey. Not only is he an extremely talented chef, but he’s drop dead gorgeous to boot. Now, of course, I would only want to hang onto his apron strings merely to learn how to cook and certainly not because he exudes passion and fire for what he does which makes him incredibly sexy; no, not for that reason at all!
My mother did not wear an apron like my grandmother when she cooked. She just went into the kitchen and started cooking away; and she is certainly a wonderful cook. I can’t tell you how many times I heard my mother complain about getting tomato sauce on her clothes when she was making pasta, and I can imagine my grandmother telling her that she should have worn an apron while my mom rolled her eyes in exasperation.
My mom and I also bake chocolate chip cookies at Christmas sans aprons. I have learned to deflect the flour away from me and cover everything else in the kitchen, including my mom. We have a personal best record of baking over 600 cookies in a six hour marathon all done without the benefit of aprons.
So I learned at the knee of my apron wearing grandparents and my non-apron wearing mother. To this day I still fumble in the kitchen even though I am related to two fantastic chefs. The one dish I can cook is lasagna, which I make twice a year while not wearing an apron. As a result I echo my mother’s complaints of getting tomato sauce on my clothes; so I guess I proudly carry on that tradition.
The most important things that I learned while hanging on their proverbial apron strings is how to be a strong, independent and intelligent woman, who just happens to know how to use a hammer and nails. I also learned how to be true to myself, to be fierce and to love my family deeply. Thanks to my grandparents’ and mother’s actions and influence I have learned what it truly means to be a woman. I never want to “cut the apron strings,” but always want to “hang onto their apron strings” because they are my role models and heritage. Hopefully, one day, I will have a little one who will be hanging on mine and to whom I can pass down these proud traditions of what it means to either wear an apron or not, depending on your preference.