The Taste of Home

Yesterday, I made this tortellini soup.


The daughter of my old friend, Tori, no longer with us, asked me for the recipe. Y’all know I don’t really do recipes, but I sent her directions.

The power of a good soup is in the fat. This soup would be good with standard chicken broth or bouillon, but it’s delicious because of the chicken drippings from a previously roasted rosemary chicken. Three days before I made this soup, I collected the drippings and placed them in a covered stock pot with herbs and onions and let it all sit for two days in my fridge. I learned that from Fairy Godmother.
In my own words, “It’s in the fridge, gettin all good.”

Anyway, I gave Pie (no that’s not her name) the directions for the soup. She thanked me. Then she said she remembers her mother made pizza soup, which she always loved, and asked if I knew how to make that, too.
I do.
I remember it, too.
Tori wasn’t much on recipes, either. I gave Pie instructions. I told her it isn’t chicken and tomato base, but rather beef and tomato base, and that her mother did not use string cheese, but she tore apart balls of fresh mozzarella.

Tori was a phenomenal cook. When we lived together, we cooked together, and sometimes fought over who would cook, because we were always in foodie heaven competition. We held a lot of dinner parties.
I miss her salad. I think we all miss her salad. I must have watched her make that salad a hundred times, but no salad I make, no matter how delicious, will ever taste as good as Tori’s salad.

I found myself overcome with emotion.
There’s our collective loss of Tori — then there’s Pie’s loss of her mother — vastly different.

I was thinking about how my mother and others are still, to this day, fraught with how to make this one dish my grandmother used to make.

I was thinking I still don’t know how my MIL makes that sweet corned beef gravy…

I was thinking about the revelation I had when I figured out the secret acidic component in my mother’s perfect pot roast.

I was thinking about how even when I make my mother’s perfect pot roast, it isn’t as good as when she makes it. It’s yummy, don’t get me wrong, but I can tell my mother didn’t make it. I suppose one day my kids will make my mother’s perfect pot roast for their kids, and their kids will love it, but it won’t taste like I made it.

This is often the case, isn’t it?
Maybe my family isn’t trying to flatter me when they say I make better sandwiches. Maybe it tastes better not because of how I made it, but because I made it.

I let Pie in on this because I don’t know if she knows. I’d hate for her to sit down to a bowl of disappointment. I told her no one can ever match the taste of their own mother’s food, but eating it always brings back a sense of home.

That’s the way it is with food. The recipes we share and pass down, they connect us to our loved ones. We aren’t just making food, we’re sharing that person with others.

What dish gives you that taste of home?


About joey

Neurotic Bitch, Mother, Wife, Writer, Word Whore, Foodie and General Go-To-Girl
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53 Responses to The Taste of Home

  1. What a great post! It has so many emotional “flavors” to it. That photo of the soup looks pretty tasty too. I’ll have to remind my wife to look for some ox tail at the store. You’ve got me in the mood to cook.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. What a heartwarming story, That soup looks gorgeous and just right for this cold and rainy weather we are having here. I agree with you how a dish can bring back so much of a person, 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Sherry says:

    lovely story…I understand in such moments what I missed in having a relationship with my mother..I do make a couple of her recipes still, but with no such feelings of mine never being as good…I just have no such feeling in me..I guess some would feel sorry for me, and surely I have missed a valuable part of life, but you do seldom miss what you never had…and you compensate no doubt in ways you are not even aware…thanks Joey for a soft sweet delightful post..

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Ellen Hawley says:

    Even to a non-meat eater, that soup looks fantastic. Made with love.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Dan Antion says:

    Great post, but in my family you have to skip one side of the tree. I don’t cook, but I can cook as well as my mother. I’d share an amazing funny/sad story with you about my wife vs. my mother but since my mother is still alive and I can’t prevent her from reading my blog, I don’t dare write that one yet. My wife still wishes she could make certain things like her mom did, but my wife is a very good cook. My paternal grandmother couldn’t read, write or speak much English, but she could cook anything better than anyone. Your soup looks delicious!

    Liked by 2 people

    • joey says:

      Thanks! Part of the problem with hunting down that dish of my grandmother’s is the fact that no one ever saw its name written! Personally, I always hated the dish, but I’d love to find it for my mother. She wasn’t a great cook, but the few things she made well were excellent.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. jan says:

    My mother liked things that came out of cans! So I’d have to say Cream of Mushroom soup! Pizza soup sounds like something I could go for!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. So, so true Joey, very wise advice you are giving Pie.
    For me the food that equates home is definitely homemade mac & cheese. I have created my own version overtime out of frustration of being unable to replicate my mom’s. Mine is delicious, my kids and husband love it but in my opinion, it is not quite as good as my mom’s. My mom also makes this pastry called “Trottoir” (French name) which literally translate to “sidewalk”. I still haven’t made those with her nor have I asked her for the recipe; I should really do that. I am not sure what we call this pastry in English. Here is a link to a photo found on the net. Would you know its name?

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Benson says:

    Good looking soup.I think everyone feels their mom is the best cook in the world. I wonder how much is memory and how much reality. I remember only one dish from my mom’s kitchen with delirious and delicious memories. Her vegetable soup.and I am sure the reason it was so memorable was her liberal use of suet. It had an oil slick on top that would make the EPA cringe but it was so darn delicious. I have replicated,to a point,her soup and I never thought it was as good. I never could sell it at any restaurant service I worked;even my own. It was that ugly. Now I have to go shopping and make some soup.

    Liked by 2 people

    • joey says:

      The flavor’s in the fat! You just know it’s true! The proof is in your mother’s liberal use of suet! My mother is excellent with pastry and candies. She cooks well, but my father and my dad both cook circles around her. One of the things I love that she makes is Hobo Stew. It looks, as Moo says, “Like thrown up soup” but it’s delicious, and will keep you warm and full for a long time. It’s sorta like a beef veggie soup with barley and corn. Gawd I love that soup, too!

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Carrie Rubin says:

    “Maybe it tastes better not because of how I made it, but because I made it.”—I think that’s very true. For me, that ‘taste of home’ is my mom’s apple pancakes. No matter how hard I tried, I could never match them. So finally I just stopped trying, and now I only enjoy them when I go visit her. But they’re well worth the wait.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. kirizar says:

    I’m so glad I opened this, despite not being a fan of tortellini or sausage. The photo really drew the eye and tempted me to investigate. I loved your take on the secret ingredient of good cooking being a mother’s touch.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. abirdman says:

    I was sure you would post the recipe, but you didn’t and no one asked for it. I don’t know if this is from modesty or just figuring (not at all illogically) your readers already have their own recipes for tortellini soup. Whatever, thanks for the story, the tear, and the delicious photo. If you posted the recipe, I would probably make it. 🙂 Happy equinox!

    Liked by 1 person

    • joey says:

      Thanks 🙂 Haha at your Whatever 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed the story at least. A tear? I hope a sweet one, with fond memories.
      I don’t really do recipes for anything other than baking. Probably why no one asks. The soup has those rosemary chicken drippings, white onion slivers, carrots, celery, parsley, basil, salt, ground red pepper, additional chicken broth, canned diced tomatoes, meatballs made from Sage sausage, arugula, spinach, and packaged cheese tortellini — in that order. Hopefully that helps.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Loved this post! I always think of home when I have my mom’s homemade mac & cheese and Thanksgiving dressing patties–yum!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Anxious Mom says:

    Love this post. I can so relate, as there are quite a few recipes my grandmother didn’t leave behind for dishes that are completely lost now. And a few that I just can’t get right, like her biscuits. But when she did pass, she left a notebook full of recipes she’d written out for me of my favorite dishes of hers, with a beautiful note that, among other things, asked me to think of her when using those recipes. It’s one of my prized possessions. ❤

    (On a lighter note, I've always wondered why people save drippings when I heard it mentioned. Now I know. Can you tell I'm not much of a cook?)

    Liked by 2 people

  14. The food made for you out of love is the best tasting food of all.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Luanne says:

    You really must be a phenomenal cook.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. April says:

    My mom always made a bread pudding that I can’t seem to replicate. I asked her to give me a recipe and I got….well, you add some of this and some of that. I need specific measurements. I’m not a great cook if I don’t have specific recipes. I like how certain foods create memories for us.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. cardamone5 says:

    Um, hold on, i need to eat the tart above…OK. Yes, food is an amazing memory activator. My grandma’s dishes are among my most treasured recipes, written in her distinctive cursive. I laminated them so they never tear or anything. Turkey/Chicken tetrazzini (the recipe for which is on my site), spice cookies, danish goulash, all yummy and nostalgic.


    Liked by 1 person

  18. La Sabrosona says:

    I’m gonna be different and say my parents’ cooking sucked and that’s why I had to teach myself how to cook. They grew up with VERY little spices – salt and pepper. When I started to learn how to cook Italian food and Indian food and Mexican food – yummm. But I’m not really that much of an ungrateful daughter. Their food is palatable enough and I enjoy having meals with them. Sitting at the table, chatting and laughing. I’ll even choose the moments when gingerale or other fizzy beverages have escaped through my nostrils. Now that’s quality family time 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  19. La Sabrosona says:

    Your soup looks absolutely divine. I’d gracefully remove the meat and eat the soup avec un grand plaisir 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  20. dalecooper57 says:

    Oh that looks amazing.
    Lasagne is my home-food. There’s nothing like the smell of a good rich lasagne, especially with cheese and crushed potato chips on top, mmmmmm.

    Liked by 1 person

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  22. “we’re sharing that person with others.” That’s it. Exactly. Lovely, sentimental post. 💕
    p.s. I’ve always believed that making soup is a measure of a good cook. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  23. markbialczak says:

    I think you’re on to something, Joey. My mother’s homemade potato-and-cheese pierogi were the bomb, always. My sisters learned how right at her elbows. The oldest of the two in particular made that and the fresh kielbasa and browned sauerkraut Polish style for me when I visited after our Mom passed, and it sure was terrific. But it just wasn’t exactly the same as our Mom’s. My sister admitted it, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • joey says:

      Yup. I almost mentioned pierogi when I wrote about the gnocchi, because it’s another one of those things that you don’t cook by recipe. You must know the weight, the texture — it is an art you must learn in person. I’m glad your sisters carry on the tradition, and I’m glad you made the connection in your own experience.


      • markbialczak says:

        My personal connection is knowing how to make the frozen Mrs. T’s correctly from the box. I boil em first, as I scald up some frozen onions in butter in my pan. Then I toss the boiled pierogi in with the carmelized onions and melted butter and mix em up good. Not quite like making the dough and innards (potato and farmer’s cheese was the right stuff at home growing up), but good enough for my stove top talents!

        Liked by 1 person

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