July 29, 2016
Help Me Find the Best Lasagna
Today the world is aflutter with lasagna. National Lasagna Day finds us bombarded with images of lasagna so cheesy that they could be Nicholas Sparks novels soaked in sauce.
Lasagna evokes different memories for everyone. There’s the kid who’s mom cracked open a can of Chef Boy-Ar-Dee, whose lasagna experience was laced with mystery meat and preservatives of an unknown nature. Then there’s the Italian family who’s nonna made lasagna from scratch, rolling pasta sheets and wielding her rolling pin like a club.
Then there’s me, the kid whose parents were not even 1/24th Italian but who eventually made their home in Rhode Island, home of Federal Hill, the zeppola and Pauly D.
I could have easily fallen under the same category as the sad kid who was spoon-fed canned lasagna, or on the other end of the spectrum, eating lasagna till my lips stained red. But it was not to be. Or more accurately, lasagna was not to be.
As a small tike, I don’t remember really eating lasagna, unless it was at a potluck at our church or at a friend’s house– and in those cases, it was most likely pulled from a cardboard box labeled Stouffers.
While my little amigos raved about lasagna, I felt a vanilla sense of apathy.
“Yeah noodles are good, sauce is nice,” I’d say arrogantly, my little pudgy fingers pressing up the glasses sliding down my nose. “But what’s the big deal Michelle? It’s like eating soggy pizza. Meh.”
Then I moved to Rhode Island, which, for a ten year old from Lexington, Massachusetts, was like a foreign country. I was hit with strange words like ‘bubbla’ and ‘quohog,’ and told that the state diet consisted of hot wieners covered in meat sauce and fried dough with chunks of clams.
Shuddering, I yearned for the comfort of my momma’s food, for water fountains, for hot dogs that weren’t slathered in mystery meat sauce. Heck, I even yearned for Stouffers lasagna.
That was thirteen years ago and, truth be told, I still haven’t found the lasagna that is so raved about, the lasagna known to make grown men weep tears of joy when it is pulled from the oven, the lasagna that will change my smug ten year old perception of it as limp pizza. (P.S. This is not solely based on my Stouffers experience, but also on lasagnas of all kinds sampled as far flung as Argentina and London. None have won me over.)
So I ask you, dear Rhode Islanders, no, I BEG you, tell me where I can find lasagna that will reveal all the unknown wonders of the universe and perhaps EVEN turn this skeptic into a fan. Tell me where to get the best lasagna.