There are a few meals that immediately conjure up images of my adolescence and dinner around the family table. My mom wasn't a gourmet cook, but she was a mighty fine one and some of her recipes did more than just feed a growing boy. When I see or hear about a certain food or meal today, I think about the way my mom used to make it. I also think about those moments frozen in time when I first experienced them. And those memories will live with me forever, or until they're stolen by old age.
When I was a kid I would bolt from the school doors after the final bell rang and race home. I'd push through my front door with the weight of the world released from my shoulders and throw my backpack down, run upstairs to my room and tear through my drawers looking for some play clothes to wear. I'd run back down the stairs, two by two, and right into the kitchen. I used to always ask what was for dinner because I was an inquisitive boy; that and I was always hungry. I knew it would be good no matter what, but if it was something like lasagna the anticipation would kill me.
Normally, I would head outside and play with the neighbourhood kids. We'd play kick the can or hide and seek or some other game and I would lose myself in the moment, doing what kids do. Before long my mom would be at the back door yelling dinner for all the kids to hear and I would pretend not to hear her so I could play one more game. One more time.
On lasagna days (made with pasta sauce, mozzarella and Canadian beef) my eyes would be focused on that back door waiting for it to open, my head continually revolving from the game to the door to the game. My friends used to ask me what was going on, wondering if I was in trouble and waiting for my dad to come home. I wasn't. I was waiting for my favourite meal to be served. They knew the feeling and been there before. On those days, I probably lost every game. My mind was elsewhere. And at the very moment the back door swung open, my feet hit the pavement and I was gone. In a flash. No time to say bye.
There was something special about the lasagna I grew up on. No fancy ingredients or special sauce. The pasta wasn't home made and the cheese was the grocery store variety. But the taste resonated with me through my youth and into adulthood. I can still turn the pages in my memory book and come across that lasagna and the taste and aroma as if I had it yesterday. I will never forget the flavour and the way it made me feel.
The lasagna I make today is different than hers was. That's neither good nor bad. It's just different. As we grow up and make our way, we tend to put our own stamp on things. I did that with this recipe and I love it just the same. My lasagna. There's a beautiful thing about progression and change.
One day hopefully my child will think about a food they grew up on. Like I do. They'll race home from school and ask their mom and I what's for dinner and when I say lasagna I'll notice the look in their eyes. I had that look. I lived through it.
From my kitchen to yours, happy eating!
* Here in Canada we're lucky to have access to high quality Canadian beef. Memories like this wouldn't be possible without great products like this beef. This lasagna was made with the type of beef I've grown up on. Great with burgers, but especially good in a homemade lasagna like this. All information on Canadian beef can be found here!
** Eat, Write, Retreat is a food blogging conference being held in Washington, D.C. this year. It is a " an intensive, hands-on weekend designed to help food bloggers take their work to the next level. Workshops in the culinary arts, creative writing, food styling and photography are interspersed with dynamic dining events, demonstrations and valuable networking sessions. Sounds pretty cool, right? Information on this wonderful food blogging experience can be found on their website!