I need you to raise your right hand and repeat after me. Are you ready? Let’s go. “I (insert your name).” No, don’t say, “insert your name.” OK, let’s start over. I (insert your name) will “never, ever, ever, ever (thank you Taylor Swift) never ever let Tony order lasagna.”
I am a lasagna snob. My mother taught my wife to make lasagna. She makes a killer lasagna. Then I go out for a meal and see lasagna on the menu. I believe it will be like my wife’s lasagna. This is how the conversation goes:
Tony: “Is your lasagna frozen or homemade?”
Waitress: “It’s homemade.”
Tony: “How tall is it?
Waitress: “It’s tall.”
Then I take my thumb and index finger and create a space between the two fingers to calculate the height of the lasagna. With fingers separated, I ask, “Is it this tall?” to which the waitress replies, “Yes, it is that tall.” Once I got such a small portion of lasagna, I felt like I was in the hamburger commercial of decades ago which asked, “Where’s the beef?” I asked, “Where’s the lasagna?”
On my last stroll down the path of ordering “bad lasagna,” I almost choked on the amount of excessive mozzarella that was on top of the lasagna. I think they forgot to put the layers of ricotta in the lasagna.
My wife just rolls her eyes when I order lasagna. My son, Ed, begs me not to order the lasagna. He reminds me that I “never, ever, ever, ever” approve of the lasagna I order. Over and over, he reminds me it’s not like Mom’s lasagna.
Do the waitresses lie? No. I grew up in a town outside of New York City, where many Italian immigrants landed after coming through Ellis Island. While you may have left your furniture in Italy, you brought your lasagna pan with you. There was a lot of competition between those who were first born in America and how you made your lasagna. Traditionally, it had crumbled up sausage and meatballs in it. Then someone committed a heresy. They made a “meatless” lasagna. Aunts and uncles rolled their eyes about this idea. After we tasted it, we found it was really good. You could taste the creaminess of the ricotta.
One more thing: When you take the lasagna out of the oven, it has to sit for at least a half hour if not longer. It allows the ricotta to set. A restaurant doesn’t have that luxury. They heat up a piece of refrigerated lasagna and get it to the customer as quickly as possible.
Each time I order lasagna, I keep believing I will receive something that is what I want it to be. Yet, I’m always disappointed. I should know better.
There is a Scripture verse that says, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end, it leads to death.” Don’t write me a letter, but can I change it to say, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end, it leads to bad lasagna.”
Just because you want to believe something to be true doesn’t mean it will be good. I need to listen to the people in my life who love me and want the best for me. They are not trying to hurt me. They are trying to help me avoid the pain of bad lasagna.
Taylor Swift sang it so well. I will “never, ever, ever, ever, ever” allow Tony to order lasagna at a restaurant.
I’ll be back in two weeks. Until then, live well my friend.
The Rev. Tony Marciano is the executive director of the Charlotte Rescue Mission.