My dad made the best lasagna! Christmas dinner was magical every year – sausage meatballs, lettuce with olives, fresh tomatoes, cheap grocery store Italian salad dressing, fresh Italian bread picked up on the way home from church, but more than anything else… the smell and heat of the lasagna cooking in the kitchen.
When I asked him for the recipe he was hard pressed to give it to me. It wasn’t something he had ever seen on paper or found in a cookbook. This was part of who he was. This was an experience he had from the time he was a small boy with two Italian immigrant farmer parents to when he married the love of his life and started building his own family traditions.
It all started with a box of lasagna noodles and grew from the there. He really didn’t think about what went in and how much.. he just stared with the box and made it up as he went along. He took stock of what was in the house and made it all work somehow magically.
My dad’s relationship with food was much like his relationships with the people around him. He saw everyone as having purpose and value and not to be put aside as un-needed. He listened with his heart and made space for everyone in it. He took people at their word and found ways to accept their intent and added them to his list of good folk like the bay leaf he added to the sauce. Everyone was magical in some way.
His lasagna spoke more to me about who he was, where he came from, and how he saw and accepted people into his home and his heart than any advice he could ever give me.
The box didn’t say much but the real recipe was in the making.