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Home is my Mom’s Lasagna

Culinary bliss, in my perspective, is defined as a moment of gastronomic euphoria. When in a state of gastronomic euphoria, one revels in the delight that food can ignite. As a person, I consider myself to be extremely detail-oriented. Whether it be through sight, smell, or taste, my attentive nature seldom falters. Unfortunately, this heightened sense of observation causes me to automatically pinpoint shortcomings or deviations of preference when it comes to food. When taking the first bite of a dish, I immediately determine if it appeases my palette. Before eating, my stream-of-consciousness always poses the question, “Will this meal be a hit or miss?” Lasagna is a masterpiece that undoubtedly transports me to a state of culinary bliss. Always a “hit,” lasagna is my absolute favorite meal to savor. 

Italian cuisine, in particular, satiates my taste buds like no other. Chicken parmesan is always a treat when in the mood for poultry and fried calamari is a gift of the sea. Within this realm of food, pasta is a culinary star. Its delicate texture and ability to soak up flavor cannot be overlooked! 

Photo courtesy of The Spruce Eats

Pasta has the undeniable ability to complement the various sauces that could accompany it. Creamy sauces enhance the richness of pasta; the acidity of tomato-based sauces beautifully cuts through pasta’s starchiness. Lasagna explores both of these dimensions. Béchamel sauce, the buttery and smooth white sauce that is typically used in lasagna, indeed highlights the richness of the layered noodles. Blanketing your taste buds with a subtle savory pop, béchamel sauce is a crucial component of successful lasagna. On another note, the tomato sauce fused with ground beef takes your taste buds in a completely different direction, heightening your meter of enjoyment. The tomato paste usually added to the tomato sauce provides a strong concentration of tomato flavor, emitting subtle acidity while also bringing out the saltiness of tender beef. 

The cheese in lasagna fosters intense satisfaction. Shredded mozzarella layered between the noodles functions as an adhesive, yet it also melts in your mouth and contributes a subtle hint of sweetness. Ricotta is another type of cheese that lasagna champions, also sweet and soft. My preferred way to eat ricotta in lasagna is when it is mixed with sliced basil, given that it acts as a vehicle for this herb to permeate the dish with aromatic freshness. Parmesan cheese is an ingredient that ties the entire dish together. Sprinkled on top of lasagna before entering the oven, parmesan cheese’s nuttiness and salty bite facilitate harmony amongst the meal’s components. While baking, the parmesan cheese forms a golden crust on top of the dish, balancing gooeyness with crunch. Once out of the oven, the scent of lasagna is pleasantly pungent and overwhelmingly inviting. The driving factor behind completed lasagna’s delightful scent is the dried oregano sprinkled on top before baking. Finished lasagna visually begs to be eaten. From the golden shade of the crust to the sight of texturally diverse layers, the dish is simply irresistible. 

Lasagna has been a personal favorite for an extended period of time. It is in the comfort of my home where I am able to best indulge in lasagna, as my mom cooks it with extra care knowing that I love it. Every time I find out that my mom is making lasagna, a huge wave of happiness overcomes me. It’s quite ridiculous just how ecstatic I get to smell the oregano, to marvel at the golden crust, to take the first bite from my plate. Apart from the sadness of leaving my family behind, a concern that crossed my mind before moving to Massachusetts was how much I would miss my mom’s lasagna. My perception of successfully executed lasagna is informed by my mom’s interpretation of the entrée, crafted with so much patience and attention. When away from home, moments of culinary bliss are few and far between. While at college, I crave the culinary bliss that my mom’s lasagna produces. 

It has become a tradition to eat lasagna every time I visit my family at home in Florida. Acutely aware of how much I miss her lasagna, my mom never fails to receive me at home with the dish as soon as I arrive from Miami International Airport. My flights from Boston usually arrive around lunchtime, so I practically start eating as soon as I get home. After quickly transporting my luggage to my room, I join my family at the lunch table and watch my mom cut me a piece of her culinary triumph. The mozzarella stretches and the steam rises, indicating comfort and warmth. 

As I take the first bite, my thoughts center on the perfection of this dish. There are no errors, the lasagna is out of this world. My mom’s lasagna fulfills the mental criteria that I judge lasagna by: it’s savory, it’s sweet, it’s velvety, and it’s crisp. A year into college, I view lasagna a bit differently. Though it remains a favorite of mine, the emotions I associate with lasagna are new. The culinary bliss that I always treasure when indulging in it is now accompanied by appreciation for returning to a loving home. The euphoric moment is, after all, fueled by thoughtfulness and kindness. I would not change a single thing about my mom’s lasagna, just how I would not change a single thing about the care and receptivity of my home.

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