Last week Les baked Apple Cake, which is one of our family's favorite desserts and is from a
handwritten recipe from our mother. It is delicious and I shared the cake with several people, one of whom commented, "You probably don't share your family recipes." I thought, "Why would I NOT want to share a recipe?", but I was not surprised by the comment because I have known quite a number of people who have stated that they would not share recipes.
So, what is it with people and what I derisively call their "sacred family recipes"? It's not as if they hold a patent. Do they think people are actually vying to acquire the recipes? I always laugh inwardly and think to myself, "Hell, if I actually wanted it, I could probably find it on the internet!"
One very irritating and boastful acquaintance brought her "secret recipe" bread pudding to an after-funeral carry-in dinner. She began telling an elaborate story about the closely-guarded recipe and how it had been handed down generation-to-generation and had been made famous by her family's former restaurant and how she had been sworn to secrecy and could only share it with her first-born child. I thought it was neither the time nor the place to be vaunting about her bread pudding, but also believe that a sense of propriety is lost on braggarts.
After her trying to force the bread pudding on me, I finally tasted it and that was followed by her asking several questions such as, "Can you believe how good this is?" and "Isn't this the best you've ever tasted?" I refrained from saying, "It's just freaking bread pudding and not a dasquoise!" but I instead replied, "I'm sorry, but I like my mother's bread pudding much more." She was obviously shocked and said, "Everybody has to say their mother's stuff is better." I laughed and said, "Yes, that's exactly what YOU are saying!"
Although I had turned and walked away from her, she persisted and said that many people had "begged" for the recipe. I was weary of her gasconade and said, "I notice that nobody here is asking for it."
At a Christmas gathering last year, one woman was telling that her mother was a "Clay" and her popcorn ball recipe came "directly from Henry Clay". After a lengthy discourse about the popcorn balls, she stated that she was not allowed to share the recipe. I restrained myself from laughing but could not help noticing that nobody had even asked for the recipe.
Later, the woman revealed that she was a descendant of Charlemagne. I asked, "Do you have any recipes from Charles Martel?"
OK, I admit that was a bit of showing-off by me with the Charles Martel reference, and it was obvious that she did not understand the reference as she asked, "What does that mean?" I answered, "Oh, Charles Martel was Charlemagne's grandfather; you know, the Battle of Tours and kicking the Moors out of Europe?"
Obviously still not grasping that I was making fun, she asked, "Are you a descendant too?" I answered, "No, I'm descended from Irish peasants!"
Isn't it interesting that people want to believe that they are descended from royalty? Of course Irish descendants are just as silly as they think we are all descended from King Brian Boru.
Les has warned me about sarcasm being wasted on those who do not "get" it !
See my BLOG article below named "TIMPANO" which tells about a family recipe I did BEG for, only to learn that it was nearly a duplicate of a recipe from the movie Big Night:
Gerald and I were guests at a surprise birthday party for one of my former employees, whom I had not seen since 1988, although we have kept in contact via Christmas cards.
He is of Italian descent and we enjoyed his family's traditional Italian birthday meal. It was--to use an Italian phrase delizioso cibo--a delicious meal. The antipasto was also the salad course and it was bountiful with prosciutto, Genoa salami, Cerignola, Gaeta, Castelvetrano, Taggniisca and Baresane olives, capers, artichoke hearts, pepperoncini, roasted red peppers and other delicacies I did not recognize but gladly sampled. There was a wheel of Camembert with a walnut on each slice and drizzled with a red syrup as well as Rustica, Asiago, Pecorino, and Caciotta cheeses. The soup course was stracciatella which consisted of chicken broth, spinach and eggs. I asked what the word entree was translated in Italian and his mother told me prima portata.
The main course was TIMPANO, which I had seen prepared in the movie Big Night. (See the movie clips) Timpano is made with pasta, sauce, meatballs, cheeses, and hard-boiled eggs baked in a thin crust in a special timpano pan. The pan is drum-shaped, thus the name for timpano is derived from the kettle drums musical instruments--timpani--as timpano is the singular form of the plural timpani.
His birthday cake was tiramisu. I don't care for the coffee flavoring of tiramisu but savored the gelato which was also served.
I begged, pleaded, and cajoled until I received the timpano recipe from his mother! It was difficult to find a timpano pan, but I finally found one on Amazon.com! The accompanying recipe is from the movie Big Night, as his mother forbade me from sharing HER recipe!
Of course, I MUST copy this meal! It is my next big project!
CLICK HERE to see The New York Times recipe "Big Night Timpano."