An Ode to Mama’s

Big Mama, Pulled Pork, Roast Lemon Basil Chicken, Pork Stir Fry 003

The Big Mama

If you’re expecting some lyrical verse from this post, I fooled you.  Rather, this is an homage to one of my college hang outs, Mama Mia’s.

Mama’s was in Puck’s Alley, located on the corner of King Street and University Avenue in the Mo`ili`ili neighborhood of Honolulu.  It’s walking distance from the University and I happened to live less than a block away in two different apartments.  While living on campus, some friends would ride their mopeds down to Mama’s and I would walk down and meet them for food and beer.  It was one of several social gathering places for us.  It was also one that offered a free pitcher of beer if you bought 5.  Yes, we had an entire thought process that went into the determination if we were going to reach that free pitcher.  Because once you buy pitcher 3, you just pretty much have to go for it.

I have many good memories of Mama’s.  The year Tickle Me Elmo came out, my big brothers got one for me for my birthday, which we happened to be celebrating at Mama’s.  It was a hit with all the servers and other customers.  Elmo made the rounds that night.  It was where my big brothers were cornered by a friend in the bathroom trying to find out which one of them was dating me.  He was completely confused when both of them told him neither of them were.  There was also the night when I met a friend’s roommate from high school and he had us all rolling throughout the night.  He ribbed me more than once about being the designated walker since I was drinking only water that night.  That was one of those free pitcher of beer nights.

There was also the night it was nearly packed because we were all there to say goodbye to one of the football players that was leaving.  I was standing talking to another player that I was friends with while other friends were sitting at the table.  Something hard hit me on the head from the behind me.  Before I knew it, my friend I was talking to had pushed me behind him as all my other friends (yes, they were all men) jumped up from their seats and formed a wall.  I had no clue what happened and was holding my head feeling a bump form.  Turns out some guys behind me got into an argument and one of them swung his beer mug.  I was just collateral damage.  Those guys got bounced and I discovered just how hard my head really is.  Partying went on and we kept going back and forth between Mama’s and another hang out a few doors down, Moose McGillicuddy’s.

Of course I have a food memory of Mama’s.  My favorite thing to get was The Big Mama.  It was a sandwich served with potato chips.  It was a messy bugger because of the dressing on it, but I loved it.  It’s the only thing I remember ordering there because I had it so often.  I know I had other items off their menu, but I can’t remember them like I do The Big Mama.  I was thinking about it around a month ago and decided I needed to make a gluten-free version since I never tried to make it before.  I don’t eat a lot of sandwiches anymore, but sometimes, you just need a sammie.  Yeah?  This is my recreation of a sandwich I have not had in well over 10 years.

The Gluten-Free Big Mama, serves 2

1 gluten-free french baguette (or gluten-full if you don’t have to be gluten-free), I used Against the Grain

Lettuce, shredded

1 Tomato, thinly sliced

2 thin slices of an onion

Thin sliced deli ham

Thin sliced salami

Thin sliced soppresata


Italian dressing

Preheat oven to 350 (or use a toaster oven).  Cut the baguette in half lengthwise.  Each half will be one serving.  Slice open each half and place on a baking sheet.  On the bottom slice of each portion, add a slice or two of provolone.  Toast in the oven or toaster oven until the cheese is melted.  Top with ham (I used 4 slices on each sandwich), salami (I used 4 slices each), soppresata (I used 2 slices each), lettuce, onion, and tomato.  Drizzle Italian dressing over the sandwich toppings and place the top baguette slice on top.  Serve with raw veggies.

It really took me back to those days at Mama’s.   Mama’s may be long gone, but the memories, and my favorite sandwich from there live on.