For special ocassions, my Italian mother would go to the Italian deli La Prima in Whittier, California. She would order a few dozen baby hard rolls, provolone cheese, and very thinly sliced capicolla (spicy Italian ham). Except she wouldn't call it capicolla. She would call it, and I'm not lying, "Cob O' Cole." I believed that we would go to the Italian deli to pick up our favorite Irish sandwich meat. Since we had a little Irish blood (and English and French) mixed in with our Italian, I couldn't believe our good fortune on finding a deli that would cater to our unique cultural heritage. Our friends adored "Cob O'Cole," too since they consumed it at parties, baptisms, and all our other family celebrations. When I grew up and moved away, I regularly checked delis and sandwich shops for "Cob O'Cole," without any luck. Mom said it was very difficult to find (which is true).
Years later, I made it back to La Prima. Eagerly I ordered a "Cob O'Cole" sandwich just like the kind I grew up on. The bored teenager at the deli counter assured me that they didn't carry "Cob O'Cole" anymore, but she would get someone who had been there a REALLY long time that would know what OLD people (me-all of 26 years old at the time) were talking about. The beautiful Italian gentleman she brought over, impeccably clean in a white cotton apron, was baffled. When I described my lost treasure as a spicy hot pepper treated deli ham, he pointed me to the capicolla. Bingo! I ordered 85 pounds and went home to interrogate my mom. "MOM-Why didn't you tell me that this is capicolla and not Cob O'Cole? Everyone at La Prima thinks I'm an idiot." With just a tinge of smugness, she explained, "Well, that's what I like to call it and that's what I've always called it."
And now you know a secret about my mother. She calls celebrities, pets, ham, son in laws, and various other things whatever she likes, and the rest of us simply adjust. Mom is five feet tall, unfailingly kind, and full of hilarious quirks and a healthy ability to laugh at herself. Having given birth to ten rambunctious children, the least we can do is indulge her "renaming"-and then tease her for it later. At mom's house and now at my house "capicolla" is still, and forever will be "Cob O'Cole."
"Cob O'Cole" Italian Ham Sandwiches with Roasted Red Peppers and Asparagus
Estimated Cost for 6 sandwiches: $6.00
Notes: If you can't find capicolla, (I couldn't this time), mix some crushed red pepper into your mayonnaise before you spread it on the rolls.
1/2 lb. fresh asparagus
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 small hard rolls, split
1/3 pound capicolla or sliced deli ham
6 thin slices provolone cheese
jarred roasted red peppers
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with foil. Place asparagus on cookie sheet and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Roast for about 10 minutes, or until softened and browned in places. Remove from the oven. Coat rolls with mayonnaise and mustard. Cover one side of rolls with provolone and leave the rolls open. Place in oven, just long enough to melt cheese. Layer sandwiches with capicolla, peppers, and asparagus.
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