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Grandma’s Secret Recipe

Dear Chef Bourdain;

I really needed an antidote from the Tripes Les Halles. Plus MLF is down with some sort of hideous grippe for the past couple of days, leaving her groaning on the couch. I’m not going to say it’s related to ingesting the offal – but for sure she needs some kind of comfort food. So while poking around in the local supermarket I remembered the easiest, best comfort food I know – my grandma’s secret recipe for Chicken n’ Dumplings.

The truth is my grandmother, a woman of the deep South, was not a very good cook. You wouldn’t know it from hearing her talk, as she was pretty sure Julia Child could have learned a thing or two from her. But she only believed in two spices – salt and pepper, and even pepper was kind of shady. A man who liked too much pepper on his food? That’s not a man to be trusted. But salt – pour it on there like it’s slug Auschwitz.

But Grandma did have a few recipes in her wheelhouse – and those one she rocked. Chief of all of these, was her chicken n’ dumplings. It was the kind of comfort food that you could feed a crying woman who’d just watched her only baby drown, and she’d settle down, snuffle a little, and ask for seconds. In her 80’s one day, she wasn’t feeling well and went to the same family doctor she’d had for almost 50 years of her life. They rushed her off to the hospital, and discovered she had stage 3 stomach cancer. Later that night she lapsed into a coma. The family gathered, like you do when someone is down and maybe not getting back up. While reminiscing, I confessed to my Aunt that if I ever ended up on death row, I wanted Grandma’s chicken ‘n dumplings for my last meal. She didn’t have her recipe. I didn’t either. We checked the family recipe book, and nothing there, either.

My grandmother regained consciousness the next day, but it was clear she was terminal, and all we could do was make her comfortable. I went to see her. She was faint, and wispy. and very, very still – but she was entirely present, her mind unclouded, her eyes clear. And I remembered to ask – “Grandma, where is your chicken ‘n dumplings, recipe?”

She said, “Oh honey, it’s just from the back of the Bisquick box.” So that was Grandma’s secret recipe.

It’s simmering on the stove right now. MLF says it smells like her grandmother’s house. She said the same thing about the guts, but she meant it in an entirely different way.

There’s comfort and home and family simmering on the stove right now. I’ll never lose Grandma’s secret recipe. How could I? It’s on the back of the box. I’ll never lose my grandma, either. When I breathe spirit into my new family, into my home; it’s her spirit I’m breathing, and her gift that I’ll never stop receiving. Food is the soul. Food is the heart. Food is the love we share with our families.

Davy

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Categories: Maundering
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