Beth English and daughter, Caroline
Why on Earth did I pick lasagna, I thought while I stirred the sauce, checked the noodles and answered a steady stream of questions from my 3-year-old, Caroline. Seriously, couldnít I have written about something simple like a bar of chocolate?
Sometimes ideas have a way of grabbing you and thatís just all there is. When we first began envisioning this food issue the economic downturn was hitting home and all I wanted to do was go home and bake a warm, comforting lasagna something I rarely do.
But as we talked about food, I was struck by how we carry a deep desire for comfort food in times of uncertainty or crisis. For me and I suspect for most people comfort foods are sometimes not so much about the food itself but about the memories connected with it.
In my case, I laugh a little because my earliest lasagnas came from a Chef Boyardee kit. But how I loved that dish! I always requested it on my birthday, a day my mother made special by allowing us to choose our favorite foods and then creating magnificently decorated cakes.
And thatís just one food memory of many. I still feel a thrill when I think of my motherís homemade yeast rolls, Grandma Tatumís chicken and dumplings or Grandma Kirbyís biscuits. The memories center me, helping me know where I come from and where Iím going. Food is something that is so basic, yet has so many layers of meaning.
I found myself making another lasagna this July for the photo shoot to go along with the ďFood for the SoulĒ article. My husband, Chris, is the photography editor. The concept: take pictures of our children eating comfort food, specifically lasagna. Small problem lasagna is my comfort food, not theirs. They donít particularly like it.
These thoughts were running through my mind when one of my sonís friends, Hannah McFarland, popped into the kitchen to ask a question. Ah-ha, I thought. Hannahís a great eater; Iíll invite her to dinner. So thatís the beautiful girl you see pictured with the story.
But the best part of the story is how our son, Clay, the pickiest eater in the house, attacked his plate with gusto because his dad was shooting pictures. And then asked for seconds. And finished by patting his tummy and telling me that he loved my lasagna.
Iíd like to think that maybe this will be one of his special food memories, made doubly sweet because itís recorded in photos taken by his dad. It was a full table that night with my in-laws and Hannah there, but thatís how food should be enjoyed in the comfort of the people who love you best.
Hearing other people talk about special foods in their lives has been a wonderful part of creating this issue. I hope you take a moment to share some of your food memories.
Beth English '07 MALS, Editor