Feelings significantly impact your memory of an event, no matter how small. Your senses assist in determining your feelings and the strength of them in your brain. Touch, taste, smell, hear, and sight are the senses your receptors pick up and your nervous system then takes care of the rest. The receptors pick up the stimulus and that message then gets sent to your brain which analyzes and sends a response. How your body responds to stimulus can determine your emotions and reactions. Taste can enhance your memories and give you a unique set of feelings. For example, the feeling of being at home is a combination of comfort and familiarity, which I encounter most often when I eat a meal. The meals I grew up with have sentimental value and remind me of being at home, even when I am not there. Chicken parmesan has become a staple meal in my diet, giving me the feeling of being at home even though life is very different now.
While doing my homework on the couch, out of the corner of my eye I spot my mom entering the kitchen and I can only hope she is going to be preparing dinner soon. I quickly shove my homework into my backpack and move to work in the kitchen, so I can get a front row seat to the show. I ask her what is for dinner and she replies, “Chicken parm with garlic bread”. As she begins separating flour, breadcrumbs, and beaten eggs into three bowls she explains what it is and why she believes I will enjoy it, “ You enjoy pasta and always have since a very young age. It took awhile for meats but chicken was a favorite by the time you were two…It is nice to see how you will try new foods, you never know when you find something new you like.” It never really occurred to me how different my mother’s perspective is from mine. She has been the person to introduce me to new foods, and to me it is like she will know if I will like it before I even take a bite. While I view trying new foods as a hassle, she just wants me to expand my palate. As I work on my homework, I glance over occasionally to see what she is doing and I doubt it will taste good, but I am optimistic.
However the meal was not complete, bread is crucial to the meal, as it is with any good pasta dish. I continued to work as my mom starting cutting the loaf of Italian bread. With each line I read, I could pace myself with the crackling of the crust as the knife slices through it. Eventually the crackling stopped and the flicker of a new burner was turned on. The smell of garlic soon met my nostrils making my homework irrelevant to growling stomach. When the oven opened next to my surprise it was not time to eat. The chicken came out of the oven looking better than the process made it out to be. After what felt like an eternity she yelled, “Dinner’s ready!”
I quickly loaded my plate with a mound of pasta a piece of garlic bread and cautiously a piece of chicken that was under a layer of sauce and melted cheese. I bring my plate to the table, the smells of the pasta sauce and garlic bread collect in my nostrils and my hands begin to warm from the plate. As I sit and prepare myself for the feast in front of me, I can’t help but to look at how the chicken is on top of my pasta, like how hot fudge tops a sundae, and think that this meal meal has potential to be delicious. I carefully slice the warm chicken, trying to avoid cutting the pasta with it, and then gently pick up a small piece of chicken and pasta onto my fork. The scratch of the fork meeting my teeth rings in my ears as I slowly chew, trying to absorb the flavor. The tender chicken mixes with the soft sauce covered pasta to reveal a surprising taste out of this world. The warm tomato taste on the soft pasta was paired well with the slight crispy coating around the chicken. As it slides down my throat my mouth waters, craving more. The more I taste, the more I want. Frantically trying every ratio of chicken to pasta, and chicken and pasta and bread, allowing my tongue to bath in what could potentially be one of the best meals of my life. The hill on my plate shrinks and shrinks while stomach grows and grows until, there is nothing left for my fork to pick up.
A couple weeks went by after eating it and while at the grocery store with my mom I asked if we could make it again. I offered to help my mom make it and she was eager that I was interested because she has told me on numerous occasions, “I was in my teens [when I learned how to cook]because I would help my mother cook dinners. It is a great way to learn to cook and I’m glad I had the chance to learn. A lot of kids nowadays don’t.” I never took great interest in cooking, I was slightly interested, but the importance of learning to cook had not hit me yet. My mom always cooked dinner for me or we went out to dinner so I never felt like I needed to learn how to cook until I started high school. When high school began I got a job where I had to work late, so I would miss family dinner. I needed to prep and make myself dinner before going to work so I could eat it later. This means that anytime I would offer to help my mom tried to pack as much information and instruction to allow me to make a decent attempt to recreate it if I was ever going to starve. She started by preparing and tenderizing the chicken, while I separated flour, breadcrumb, and beaten eggs into 3 different dishes. We proceeded to dunk the chicken into the flour, the beaten eggs and then the breadcrumbs, this allows the breadcrumbs to stick to the chicken better. My fingers are covered in the goo of the mixture. My mom explains how everything has an order or it will not be done all at the same time. We started the pasta when the water was done boiling, and the garlic bread got put in the oven last. When everything was completed I swear it tasted better than it ever had, probably because we made it together.
Chicken parmesan allows me to reconnect with my mom, no matter where I am. Although I have made lots of meals with her, this meal was where I really started learning to cook. My mom has a passion for cooking and it started with her watching her mom cook. She’s told me, “She was such a good cook. I remember watching her cook and bake when I was young. I learned how to bake brownies and cookies by 11 years old and I cooked more foods in my teens. When I was 18 my mom died so I did a lot more cooking for my family.” Her experiences when she was my age made me value all of the home cooked meals we have together as a family. She always wanted my sister and I to love cooking and be able to take care of ourselves, and my sister has gotten into cooking, while I personally enjoy baking more, but what she instilled in me at a young age has helped me take a new place to call home, and make it feel like home.
Begin by to 400 degrees and slicing and tenderizing chicken breast. Then, beat eggs and place them in a dish, place flour in a separate dish, and breadcrumbs in a third. Roll the chicken breast in the flour, eggs, and then breadcrumbs. Do not put it into the next ingredient until it is completely covered. Bake the chicken for about 40 minutes, this may change depending on how thick the chicken is. While the chicken cooks, boil and pot of water on the stove and place pasta in it. Have the pasta boil until it is cooked. When the chicken is done place a small amount of pasta sauce on it and mozzarella cheese on it and put it back in the oven until the cheese is melted. Dish served best when pasta is placed on the plate first, followed by pasta sauce, and then chicken.
<- this is what you roll the chicken in, the link below explains why