When I was 18, I had dinner at my boyfriend’s house for the first time, with the family that would become my in-laws.
His mom, who is Italian, served lasagna. It bore little resemblance to the Americanized version I’d eaten throughout my childhood at parties and potlucks. Rossana’s homemade sauce was bright red and just tangy enough to offset the sweetness of the “goodies” tucked between the noodles: sliced egg, ham and ground beef. It was also lighter. Not a speck of ricotta in sight.
This lasagna, served on an ordinary weeknight, was one of the best things I’d ever eaten. I was trying to find a way to express my astonishment, without sounding like I was desperate to score points, when Rossana looked up from her plate and asked for feedback.
The family quickly weighed in: The sauce needed salt. She’d skimped on the ham. The noodles were overdone. When Rossana turned to me, I was flustered: Were we even eating the same meal? Who were these people?
“It’s delicious,” I stammered.
Disappointment flashed across her face.
“You’re right,” she said to my future father-in-law. “More salt.”
Read the rest of this essay at Distinction magazine. (And, hey! Thanks so much for reading.)