I’ve eaten the best sandwich in the world. The bread was perfectly toasted, the cheese was perfectly melted and the combination of turkey and pineapple created a taste any girl would love. But what gave this meal such an exquisite title wasn’t the unique recipe or the gobs of melted butter dabbed with jelly — although that helped. What made this recipe number one was the woman behind the Panini.
I became a mother on Aug. 3, 2008. When my husband and I arrived home two days later, my own mom was there to help the best way she knew how; with food. I watched her assemble this sandwich and eagerly anticipated its sweet flavor. But when I took the first bite, I couldn’t believe my taste buds. The best chef in the world couldn’t have made a sandwich as good as this one, simply because it was crafted by my mother’s hands.
Recipes from loved ones can do that. I bet you have a casserole, or sandwich or dessert favorite, too. It’s those special dishes that come to your front door just when you need them that leave a lasting impression.
Last week, I returned the favor. At least, I hoped to. Mom had knee surgery at the beginning of the month. Unfortunately for my mother, she’s become a professional in the surgery category. A bad back and a few other alignments have made her a featured guest for area surgeons.
My sisters and I planned to take turns bringing food to mom and dad after the surgery. It’s no secret I’m not the best cook. We all knew I would hit up the local grocery store for my contribution. But with my store-bought bakery items and soups, I also whipped up a tator tot casserole — because nothing says get well soon like a few frozen tator tots.
The casserole was wrapped and the other goodies purchased for a Friday night delivery. Unfortunately, life had a different plan. Moments before we left, my own baby girl decided to catch the nasty flu bug. It left us grounded for several days.
Throughout the weekend we ate the food meant for mom. The strawberries, the grapes, the extra-large croissants I knew Mom would love; we snacked on each morsel. And on Sunday, when I didn’t want to cook a thing, we ate that frozen tator tot casserole, too.
But for my sick 4-year-old, Gracie, nothing tasted quite as good as a simple piece of buttered toast dusted with cinnamon and sugar.
“I made it just for you, Miss Gracie,” I explained.
She smiled, told me it was “very yummy,” and devoured the entire piece.
It didn’t taste any different than the other 100 times I’ve made it. But to my daughter on an empty stomach, after a weekend of sickness, special cinnamon toast from mom was just what she needed.
Moms are smart. We tend to know exactly what our babies need, exactly when they need it.
I’ll get back to mom and dad’s house soon. I’ll come prepared with store-bought bakery items and hopefully, a healthy family. I might even attempt a new casserole. But whatever I make, it won’t be as good as mom’s. It never is.