I’ve just finished an unmemorable book. It was chick lit with mid-life crisis characters set in contemporary England. There were some sterling insightful observations and quick repartee. In no time at all I will forget it and move on. Since the title was Cloe Zhivago’s Recipe for Marriage and Mischief by Olivia Lichtenstien; she felt she had to weave recipes throughout. At the beginning of most chapters there was a recipe with a hint of tying it into the chapter with a noted character.
One recipe and chapter gave me pause. It was a recipe from the ‘50’s- a bit more gourmetized than I remembered. It was offered by the mother/mother-in-law/grandmother. She was a woman that made you cringe just reading about her. True to form she made a dish that everyone either gagged on or quickly left the table. Of course the characters had to hate the meal the woman was vile.
When I looked at the recipe I had a different feeling. Take the peas away and it was Tuna Casserole! As a child it was a delight! A casserole with potato chips as one of the 4 ingredients was culinary utopia. For my mother it was bliss from can to table in 20 minutes and no complaints. “Lick your plate clean!” “No problem!”
When the characters gagged and rolled their eyes I felt like shaking them!
“Don’t you understand how good that casserole is? Where else is there a recipe that has potato chips as part of the square meal? Usually they were parceled out but in this dish they could be eaten with orgasmic abandon. Toasty on top and drenched in cream of mushroom soup it didn’t get any better back in the fine cuisine era of the late '50's.
I will not go down culinary lane and recreate the dish. My memories are strong and I don’t want to mar them with the reality of a mediocre meal. A tear will be shed over the memory.