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lasagna is just spaghetti-flavored cake

July 20, 2016
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

Next weekend is National Lasagna Day. It happens that recently in our newsroom, ad sales rep Colt said we should have a pasta hot dish cook off, and he would be the judge. At first we weren't so sure, but when LeAnn said, "My lasagna is so good, I'll take it all,"?I had to intervene. Lasagna triggers many emotions in me; I'm more attached to it than Garfield, the cat, I think.

Today it is 28 years since my mother left the earthly life for the next one. I'm dealing with it fine after this long, but how appropriate that it's on the cusp of National Lasagna Day that we mark her last day on earth and that we embark on our lasagna challenge.

My mother's lasagna was the talk of the town, and she regularly hosted fabulous dinner parties, progressive dinners, costume dinner parties and cookouts to entertain my parents' friends. The times she served her lasagna, it seemed like all the adults were at least 40 percent happier than usual.

Unfortunately, no one I have asked has admitted to having her recipe. It's possible she never wrote it down and wouldn't give it to anyone. It's not even that it was so fancy:?she used ground beef and cottage cheese and Ragu from a jar. I?never have figured out what her secret was.

In the process of highly scientific and definitely messy experiments in my kitchens over the years to replicate it, I might have made mine better. It's not better than the way I felt when I ate hers, but I?think that's the way with nostalgic food. It won't ever be as good as mom's or grandma's because you'll never feel the way you did when you ate it with her.

I've gone crazy, adding Italian sausage, and at various times fresh minced vegetables, fresh pressed garlic, and a ridiculous amount of various shredded cheese, all mixed in a bowl with ricotta and sometimes cottage cheese, too. I add water to the marinara sauce so I don't have to boil the noodles, because when?I try to lift them out of the boiling water with tongs, well that's a steaming hot mess no one needs to see.

They say it's unhealthy to tie food with feelings, because the habit of emotional eating can lead to problems. I guess I've found that to be true. My particular booty has not developed without a lot of pain, striving, and hard work.

Here is the part where I talk about my play, about which you can find more information on Facebook:?TFOJB?Estherville.

The opening scene is the chef/narrator who chops up some goodness at a rolling workstation, and talks about the best meals we've ever had. Whether it's burgers or chicken at a cookout, or pistachio crusted duck with panna cotta for dessert, a giant meatball with penne pasta, life-changing truffle macaroni and cheese, maccheroni with sea urchin, hummus, tavuk gogsu sarmasi and baklava, OR

if that whole list makes you wrinkle your nose and decline, or if you don't remember the best food you ever ate, then maybe it's not about the food at all, but the people around your table. The question (and in the play, the chef doesn't actually list all that gourmet blather above)?at the beginning is, what makes a fantastic meal??

Throughout the play as the main character, Jovi, and her friends and family get to know some of the people in the tent city next door, the question becomes, "Why is it that we give the worst to the poor?" or "What do the poor deserve?"?People from the tent city tell their stories in slam poetry at Jovi's dinners as her table expands to fit them all. Meanwhile, the normal issues of being human, of relating to those you love and used to love, of working and chasing your dreams, also come through.

If it sounds like a "chick play,"?know that there's the lead up to a life-changing rugby game, and stories you won't believe.

We're considering Labor Day weekend for an opening, with perhaps the next weekend as a second chance. Audition sign ups will be available in the commercial exhibits building at the Emmet County Fair. We're still figuring out a venue; a non-traditional one would be really fun, but we have to think about lighting, a backstage, and other things, too.

All of this seems like a big thing, but then there's the other thing. A few of us hope to start a regularly scheduled community meal in Estherville. We can have a Day of Peace (coming August 21)?but what will come of that if we don't continue to get to know each other. What better way to do that than over a great meal??

This community has lots of gifts. The Emmet County Community Foundation said yes to this, and with a few matching donations, we can make this happen.

Meanwhile, I?need to figure out the next great development of my lasagna. It's on.



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