When I think of home, I think of a place that always smelled like vanilla or apple candles, with every window in the house thrown open to let crisp air and sunlight stream into every room. There was always at least one dog always underfoot, and classic rock records always played through the speakers of the stereo we my mom bought for my dad as either a birthday or Father’s Day gift. At night, Law and Order reruns were almost always on the TV (unless it was 7 o’clock, in which case, Jeopardy always, always won out, despite my dad’s increasing annoyance with Alex Trebek. Can Anderswoon Cooper just replace him already?), and on the weeknights where we weren’t treating ourselves to Chinese takeout, my mom was usually responsible for preparing something delicious, and she always delivered.
When I reached my 20s, I learned the secret to my mom’s delicious weeknight meals: The New York Times 60-Minute Gourmet. It was dog-eared and missing its cover, a well-worn weapon in my mom’s culinary arsenal. She lent it to me briefly before getting sick of my book-hogging tendencies and buying me my own copy, and I returned it with about two dozen Post its marking recipes I wanted to make.
Chicken tastes amazing when breaded in Cap’n Crunch and dunked in honey mustard.
OK, OK, so a few of those things I could have guessed (that Something Borrowed would be infuriatingly insipid, Patton Oswalt is better at saying things than I am), and some of those things I already knew (air travel is a major crapfest and Cap’n Crunch chicken is not, namely).
Hi, I’m Lauren. How are you? I’m OK. I’d be better if I hadn’t poked a hole in my own eardrum the other day, but hey, what can you do, other than pop some ibuprofen and fervently pray to all the powers that may or may not be that it doesn’t turn into a horrifying, excruciating infection like the one that rendered me a weeping, painkiller-addled mess in 2006. But this isn’t about me, and my unfortunate eardrum problems. This is about you.
First off, I am a huge fan. Always been. Growing up, my mom made some pretty delicious dishes, and her version of you was no exception. I usually got so excited about the prospect of putting a spoonful of you in my mouth that I accidentally seared my taste buds and dealt with that weird, stripped-tongue feeling for a few days. It was OK, though. It was a reminder of your utter deliciousness.