For the first 18 years of my life, I was spoiled rotten. I grew up on good food: tender mafaldine with luxurious lamb bolognese for my birthday;charcoal-grilled duck in the middle of a 15-day power outage; scallops and saffron-laced risotto on Valentine’s Day; fall-off-the-bone short ribs braised in red wine on any old Sunday evening. My dad, whether intentionally or not, has trained my siblings and I to expect a stellar meal at the drop of a hat.
Even though I haven’t been home in three months, Dad saves me a seat at our tiny dinner table. Every few weeks, I receive a plate of food in our text message conversations. I’m sharing some of my favorites in the hope that you too will be reminded of the taste of home.
Note to reader: Read the text below as you would a text conversation. My dad’s words and pictures are on the left; mine are on the right. Italicized words have been taken directly from our messages. All non-italicized words are additional thoughts and comments.
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Ina Garten’s Coquilles St. Jacques
A first in the Frias house, at least as far as I remember
Looks really good
Bay scallops, mushrooms, breadcrumbs, and cheese
Ah the idea of baking scallops and cheese doesn’t sit right with me
I clearly have trouble reconciling the combination of dairy and fish
But I thought of a way to make it for you
He goes to great lengths to reconfigure recipes according to my dietary needs, and I could not be more grateful
How is that
No butter, gluten-free breadcrumbs, coconut milk, and skip the cheese
But I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I’d rather pass on this adaptation. Sorry Dad.
Thursday, November 26, 2020
Wear a mask….
Dad jokes from 300 miles away are almost funny.
That’s kinda gross
What if it coughs?
Let’s hope it doesn’t
Roasted squash, fire roasted sweet potatoes, roasted brussels sprouts with walnuts and pomegranate seeds, pâté in the middle
Thanksgiving (minus the smoked bird) dinner modified to feed five; a step down from our yearly menu for 10.
Truth was, I wanted nothing more than to be home on Thanksgiving. Tom yum takeout in my dorm room wasn’t quite the same.
Thursday, February 4, 2021
Taiwanese popcorn chicken
This made me giggle. Maybe it was his way of telling me he missed me
You don’t have to make things gf when I’m not there you know
I could see him shrugging exasperatedly as he read this.
The final product w/ fried basil
Looks really nice
Does it have a sauce?
No sauce―but feel free
To think about sauce?
I made a mayo/sriracha dip
I’d be a fool not to request this when I go home for summer break.
Saturday, February 13, 2021
Pizzas! Made the dough with the sourdough starter
Plugging Mary’s sourdough pizza recipe from Mucho Gusto.
Send the finished product when you’re done
Hopefully I don’t fuck it up
Unfortunately, Dad has a long history with fucked up pizzas. On one occasion, an entire pie fell through the grates of the grill. There was a lot of swearing involved.
*four hours later*
Okay, I need more practice
The dough portion was way too small (and I don’t know how to properly stretch the dough) so the pizzas were very small. I don’t think they tasted bad, at least mine didn’t, but overall it was very stressful
I’m guessing there weren’t any pictures.
Monday, March 9, 2021
*Link to playlist titled “Pizza and Pasta*
A new playlist….Self explanatory
Some of my earliest memories in the kitchen were surrounded by the sounds of Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin, Tony Bennett, and Sammy Davis Jr..
I have one like that
I didn’t tell him that I stole most of the songs off of his playlist.
We think alike.
It’ll let me see what’s on the playlist but not play it
I’ll have to move it to Spotify manually
It’ll be good to play on a Sunday afternoon
A Sunday supper staple.
Or eggplant parm
A once-in-a-blue-moon treat.
Sunday, March 14, 2021
A shot from a 30-second video of Sunday red sauce bubbling on the stove. The gently simmering pot and “‘O Surdato ‘nnammurato” by Pavarotti can be heard in the background.
I bet Dad could find a way to mail a jar of sauce to Chestnut Hill.
If I do say so myself
It is great
Much better than “dinnatime.”
Friday, April 2, 2021
Yes―I’m going to try this again
Send final product
The perfect pizza is Dad’s kryptonite. This is a major win.
What about everyone else?
They’re all out there
All the same
I doubted that my brother Alessandro would allow anchovies on his pizza.
You did them on the grill?
A couple of new tricks
Used parchment paper to slide the pizza off the peel…and did a better job with the dough
Food is the way my family shows love. I can’t enjoy every dinner with my family from several states away, but these photos are the next best thing. While my dad doesn’t say “I love you” over text, he does send plates of food. And to me, that’s even better.