My father passed away before he could share some of our family’s most prized treasures. Two of these treasures are frequently mentioned and missed recipes. The first is his famous Caesar’s Salad. I don’t know what he did differently with his salad–more anchovy paste? More Egg? Did he let the dressing stew longer?–but I have not had a caesar salad that could hold a candle to his. For a few years after his passing I would try a number of salads just to see if it could compare. I eventually decided to save my money and swear of Caesar’s salad. Why bother trying to copy what has never been copied?
The other lost recipe was more of my mother’s work than his. My parents combined their culinary powers to produce one of the most delicious barbecue sauces known to humanity. My mother would make the sauce to my dad’s specifications. I know they used Open Pit as a base instead of ketchup, but it was a day long affair of sautéing, stewing and grilling. Both of my parents promised to teach me the secret of the Award Winning Sauce (16th out of 600+ at the Mike Royko Ribfest) but they never got around to teaching us.
Both are gone forever. There is no way to recreate the Casear’s Salad Dressing. There is chance at rebuilding my mom’s BBQ sauce… But then I would be stuck recreating their legacy instead of working on my own. My parents did not want me to dwell on what was. They wanted my brother and I to excel beyond their wildest dreams. We can’t do that if we are stuck trying to recreate the lost sauce.
If either Tony or I stuck to the past, neither of us would have learned to grill. Our father promised to fill us in on his secrets, but we had to relearn them. And we did. That’s why this Sunday, Tony and I will be trying a new sauce. We will also tap in to our recently discovered Grilling Skills and slow cook our the ribs we intend to serve as we celebrate my parents. Our new sauce may not be as awesome as what we lost, but given time, we will learn.
First off: *hugs* I am right there with you. Tomorrow is my mom’s 5 year. This I suppose is one of her ways of saying “hey dumbass, you aren’t the only one, one day you’ll be past this too.”
Secondly: thank you. It’s a comfort to know that I’m not the only one who thought there would be more time to learn the coveted Mom’s Mac and Cheese recipe or how to make her potato salad. It’s so funny how you don’t think of those things until it’s too late and then you kick yourself for not thinking of it earlier.
I hope your barbeque is delicious and healing both.
I remember your dad making his Caesar salad, dressing and all, in your dorm room in Bushnell, probably freshman year. He crouched on the floor, and made magick. I hadn’t ever really had Caesar salad before that, but I remember how good it was, in your dorm room, on paper plates.