Thursday, December 02, 2010

Korean Lasagne

Chang Rae-Lee on the lasagne his mother made:

"Her lasagna is our favorite of that suite, though to taste it now I fear it might disappoint me, for the factory sauce (which I demand she use, this after noticing jars of Ragu at both the Goldfusses’ and the Stanleys’) and the rubbery, part-skin mozzarella, the cut-rate store-brand pasta, the dried herbs. But, back then, it’s a revelation. Our usual dinners feature salty fish and ginger, garlic and hot pepper; they are delicious in part because you can surgically pick at the table, choose the exact flavor you want. But this is a detonation of a meal: creamy, cheesy, the red sauce contrastingly tangy and a little sweet, the oozing volcanic layer of the pasta a thrilling, messy bed. Maybe I first have it at Ronny Prunesti’s house, or Mrs. Churchill delivers a show model, but all of us are crazy for it once my mother begins to make it. We choose our recipe (was it on the box of macaroni?), our tools. I remember how she carefully picked out a large Pyrex casserole dish at Korvette’s for the job, a new plastic spatula, two checkerboard wooden trivets, so we can place it in the center of the table, and for a few years it becomes a Friday-evening tradition for us. She makes it in the afternoon after dropping me off in town for my junior bowling league, and when she and my sister pick me up I hardly care to recount my form or my scores (I’m quite good for second-grader, good enough that my father decides I should have my own ball, which is, whether intentionally or erroneously, inscribed “Ray”) owing to the wonderful smell on their clothes, clinging to my mother’s thick hair – that baked, garlicky aroma like a pizzeria’s but denser because of the ground beef, the hot Italian sausages she has fried, the herbal lilt of fennel seeds."


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