Patricia Simmers Thompson will be forever remembered for her inspired, succulent interpretations of blue-plate classics that, to this day, remain beyond imitation.
Though she left many of these priceless recipes behind, her children make largely feeble attempts to imitate her culinary artistry. Some, such as her recipe for wonderfully pungent spaghetti sauce, may be lost forever,now that bottle after soulless bottle of sauce concocted by impostor chefs lines the grocery store aisles.
Time was a secret to most of her recipes. Patricia’s succulent pot roast, combined only with onion, celery, and perhaps a carrot, cuts like butter in my memory. Her chicken-and-rice casserole, prepared with the lightest addition of a can of Cream of Chicken soup, doesn’t taste the same by any other hand–the chicken not as crispy, the gravy the wrong consistency. Meatloaf, though made to her specifications, just doesn’t have the same bite–how much onion did she use?
Macaroni and cheese, though, may have been her defining moment. Though the generations that follow have discovered her secret ingredient–onion salt–none can match the crispiness with which her maccy cheese emerged from the oven. None can achieve the same consistency of cheese sauce, piping hot and seemingly caught moments before curdling.