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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Do You Smell What I'm Cooking?

I have some lotion at work. It’s a lavender/geranium-scented blend, a smell, to my mind, that normally implies a massage or facial is imminent.

The person, by the way, the one that should be holding that bottle in her hand and asking me if I’d rather hear the lilting sounds of the Celtic fog or the dulcet tones of piano concertos, has so far failed to appear at my desk.

But a girl can hope, yes?

They say that the sense of smell is a powerful memory-nudger. OK, that’s not actually what they say, I’m sure, but it’s how I remember it. I like the idea of something nudging me to remember. Not a big push, just a quiet little “hey, you remember that time…”

A friend of mine recently made me lunch, a lasagna, a delicious layering of all things good with just the right amount of oregano.

Now there’s an herb that brings me back.

Oregano is a sneaky little thing, and was once purchased in the belief that it was marijuana.

Not by me, of course, but by someone close to me. At my request. With my money.

We’ll talk of this another time.

The smell of oregano – in food, not smoked in a bong – has always reminded me of my father.

My father, master salesman, teller of jokes both clean and corny, is quite a good cook; and I spent many afternoons, as a child, under his tutelage.

His meatballs haunt me still.

“Go ahead, take your rings off,” he’d say. “We’re gonna get in there and squish all these ingredients together. And don’t bother washing your hands. It’s a secret ingredient.”

Have you spent much time with your hands in a meatball mixture? It’s a cold, greasy affair.

My dad says strange little things, things like your unwashed hands being a secret ingredient, primarily to see whether you’re paying attention or if you’re among the walking daft, little things that he doesn’t necessarily mean to be taken at face value. He even writes them down; and I have recipes in his handwriting that say things like “add a mouthful of warm water” or “add 12 to 14 peas”.

He was kidding, by the way, about the hand-washing; although now that I think of it, I don’t recall if he washed his hands or not…

It’s Sunday, it’s a beautiful day, and I’m off to make lasagna.

And, no. That’s not code for something else.

42 comments:

Eva Gallant said...

Your Dad sounds like a fun trip! And can you smell the pot roast I have simmering in my slow cooker?

Daisy said...

I can smell the lasagna with pot,whoops, oregano all the way over here Pearl! And it promises to be delicious in many ways.

Kate Mohler said...

I like this post! Fresh and funny. I like your dad too.

Leenie said...

No wonder you have such a quirky head. All those dad germs and dad genes can really twist a mind. Love the way it (your mind) turned out--better than the perfect lasagna with all those layers of flavor and fun. Best wishes for super success with that meal. Too bad the wind is from the west or I'd go out and sniff for orgegano in tomato sauce and cheeeeeezzes!

ellen abbott said...

oh yes, oregano. I'm here to tell you it will not get you high. don't ask me how I know that.

Shieldmaiden96 said...

This post puts me in mind of my mother making spaghetti sauce, watching her deposit tiny islands of herbs in the pot and then stir them in. For a few minutes the faint whorl of green would remain on the surface and the kitchen would fill with that wonderful scent. These are the things I think of when people ask me why I 'bother' to make my own sauce.

Sioux said...

Pearl---Since you shared your Hidden Valley Torte recipe back in November, I thought I'd ask:

Have you ever tried Mexican lasagna? It's good when the weather gets warmer, and you want something a little lighter. Change it to salsa instead of spaghetti sauce, colby-jack instead of mozzarella, you can add beans/corn, and you can keep the cottage cheese/ricotta or change it to sour cream.

Have you noticed there are lots of folks who would take your dad's comments at face value and fail to see the humor? Sad!

June said...

I have a collection of my grandmother's recipes.
All full of directions like, "butter the side of a hazelnut."
Your remembrance of cooking with your dad reminded me of that.

Gigi said...

Yum! Lasagna.....now that would be the perfect compliment to the bread I'm making. So what time will you (and the lasagna) be here?

Oregano also brings back memories for me...it reminds me of the last meal I ever made for hubby. I was making a meatloaf and was sprinkling some oregano in....unfortunately I wasn't watching what I was doing and failed to notice that this particular vial didn't have that lid with holes in it. So I dumped half the bottle in before I realized. After that meal hubby asked me to never cook again....so I haven't.

Simply Suthern said...

My dad is a master corny joke teller. Ive heard most of them but when friends come over if they dont already know they are warned. It can get deep in there.

jo.irish.rose said...

thanks...now i have to go out and make my dads lasagna....it sounds alot like yours, without the hand washing part....lol sounds good for today, i will add it in after the movie with my grand daughter. looks like another full day again today. but at least the house will smell soooo dang good. thanks pearl for the lovely thought. hadn't had this in forever!!

lisleman said...

what an interesting measurement - mouthful - it would work ok for water and some other liquids but a mouthful of flour or sugar would be a tough one.

Karen said...

Your father sounds like a hoot. For me it is my mothers barley soup with lamb. If I smell it I am 12 years old again.

Jan said...

Smells really DO harken memories! Your oregano story made me smile! And squishing meat/eggs/breadcrumbs/spices in with our hands ~ well, I have to have the hot water running so I can rinse off the cold!

Even if I just ate, the smell or coffee or cinnamon rolls or popcorn make me instantly hungry. Wonder what THAT is all about!

Haven't made lasagne in ages...perhaps it's time!

Hugs
Jan

Mamma has spoken said...

Not much for Italian foods since my mother was an old southern cooking style cook. Think Paula Dean before she became so popular and that's my mom. Forget recipes, it was all by memory and by sight. Try explaining that one to others when they ask for recipes: "Oh add just enough." doesn't translate well...

Susan in the Boonies said...

mmmmm.....lasagna....

Oy...you nudged my memory ...like a good smell.

Jimmy said...

I was waiting for the immortal line at the beginning of your post "It put's the lotion in the basket!" but thankfully it didn't appear.

jenny_o said...

Your dad sounds like a fun guy to learn from. And like someone else said, he just might have had a little something to do with your great sense of humour! Enjoy your lasagna!

Charlotte Ann said...

Shrimp Etouffe...I live in Louisiana...what did you expect?

Nancy said...

My dad was funny too, not like your dad, but in an "oh brother" kind of way. I miss him. :)

Oilfield Trash said...

Your dad always cracks me up.

lime said...

what a great story. i think your dad and my grandfather would have gotten along well in the kitchen. my smell is marjoram. takes me right back to his kitchen.

The Vegetable Assassin said...

HAHAHA the more I read about your dad the more I like him. He's a musical rascal of a man. You're a lot like him, I'm thinking.

I agree about scents. I can smell a perfume or something I haven't smelled for 20 years and it will take me right back to that time. Only scent and music are that evocative in my mind.

a Broad said...

How wonderful to have so many great memories of your dad and his "sayings" ... Some days I try and try and all I can remember is my mother yelling at me to do something or my dad yelling at me to be on time :(
I was obviously stolen by gypsies and given to them at a tender young age...

mapstew said...

Ah Lasagna, good Irish food! :¬)

xxx

Douglas said...

You got burned on that bag of oregano too? Burned the throat, didn't it? And not in a good way.

Lasagna is my favorite dish. Oregano or that other stuff, both work well in it but one much better than the other. Depending on the goal in mind. One of them ensures there will be no lasagna left in the pan. And a nice nap afterward.

Jhon Baker said...

it would be an interesting code - I wouldn't mind going off and "making some lasagna" myself right now.

Amanda said...

"A mouthful of warm water"! Hilarious!! I would love to see that while reading a recipe.

Belle said...

"Add 12 to 14 peas..." This kills me.

becca said...

what a funny dad

Little Ms Blogger said...

I love how something so small like a scent, a sound or a glimpse of something out of the corner of your eye can bring back memories that put a smile on my face. It definitely brightens my whole day.

Barb said...

Well, Pearl - I can only hope that you didn't wash your hands.

Cake Betch said...

Yeah I've totally never bought a bag of oregano from some idiot that thought it could be passed off as something else... I mean, my friends told me that before.

I wish I could cook. I can't, and I hate it, so I'm not really motivated to learn I guess.

Debbie said...

great story....wonderful memory!!! thanks for stoping by my place, i enjoyed your kind comments!!! come back again, i am always up to something new and fun!!!! xo

Stephanie in Suburbia said...

I actually am always the one volunteering to do meatloaf and burgers b/c I LOVE squishing my hands in the cold meat. That...sounded odd.

HermanTurnip said...

Your dad and mine seem to have been cut from the same mould. At parties he would inject odd quips into conversations just to keep people on their toes, and it's a nasty habit that I've seem to have picked up. Nicely done, dad...

Lazarus said...

Pearl, your dad is quite the character, and we see that the apple (of his eye, no doubt) didn't fall far from the tree. Loved the parts about him in your chapbook and every time he appears on your blog is an entertaining event. The unwashed hands like is creative and funny, thanks, I'll be stealing that one!

Rawknrobyn.blogspot.com said...

That's the most intriguing teaser of an oregano story I've ever heard!

Meatball mixture and lavender are two of my favorite smells. I'm wondering what the combo would smell and taste like.

xoRobyn

Jocelyn said...

You know what your dad told me is really fun to do when you're wasted, you big oregano stoner? You're supposed to go to the kitchen, open the spice cabinet, take out some mace, and whirl it around your head like it's a medieval weapon.

True story.

Pat said...

When my Mum worked in a factory she was fascinated when a work mate said she loved making pastry because it got her hands clean.

River said...

As a kid about 8 or 9, I remember my dad soaking slices of bread in milk before squishing them into hamburger mince with his hands. Best burgers ever.

Gaston Studio said...

Lovely post, Pearl. It was my grandmother who taught me to sink my hands into the meat mixture when making lasagna, etc., and I never forgot. It's better, however, when you've taken the meat from the fridge some time before diving in 'cause that meat can be cold!