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 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?