Friday, April 16, 2010

Stolen Lasagna

I’ve never understood the idea of secret recipes, unless a profit is being made. But just to keep something so delicious from others so they can’t share in the same joy seems trivial and cruel.

I once dated a guy who would never share ANY recipes with me, all of which he obtained from his mother.

“Nope. It’s a secret,” he’d always say when I asked for one.

I used to watch closely and memorize the order of ingredients long enough to get it on paper, where the recipe would be mine forever.

I made my beloved banana bread one day at his house and left the recipe card on the kitchen counter, I was sure. (I have a short memory so I still need the recipe.) A few weeks later, I wanted to make the bread again, but could not find the recipe anywhere. (I’m also very disorganized. Thanks Mom.) I asked him about it.

“I haven’t seen it, but I’ll keep looking,” he said, in earnest.

“I’m sure it’s there. Keep looking, please.”

I wound up just calling my mom for a new copy soon thereafter.

I was also desperate for his mother’s unpatented lasagna recipe, which she got in secret too, from watching her Italian mother-in-law, who also refused to share recipes. I had been asking for it for a while, but he’d taken it out of his recipe box and hidden it. A few months later, things had already started heading south (hoarding recipes was the least of it) and I knew we wouldn’t be together much longer. I was at his house alone with his sweet dog one day, toward the end, and decided I was going to find and copy that lasagna recipe before we broke up. I couldn’t bear the thought of never having it again. It was one of the best dishes I’d ever had.

I’d long forgotten about losing my original copy of dirty banana bread by this point. I flipped through his recipe box. Still no dice on the lasagna. The kitchen was large with cabinets that went almost all the way up to the ceiling. I stood on a chair and looked inside all of them, and way up high on an empty shelf that neither he nor I could reach, tucked deep in the back corner, was an index card. I reached in and grabbed it. Lasagna! And underneath the lasagna was my original banana bread recipe.

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