Many years ago—geez, I’m old enough to write that?—I worked with another occupational therapist who once commented, “Joanna, you have a story about everything!” She was right; I still do, but isn’t that what makes me a writer?
So it goes that I have a story about my absolute favorite chicken recipe, this amazingly simple, incredibly delicious, very elegant dish; perfect for special occasions yet easy enough to make during the week and even better the next day! Feel free to make ahead, store in a covered glass baking dish and reheat before company comes!
When I was a girl I lived down the block from a family-owned Italian butcher/grocer/deli. As soon as I was old enough to cross the street, my mom had me there almost daily, picking up little things she needed. Sometimes, she’d send me without money and I’d sign a receipt; she’d pay for those items on Saturday, when she made her weekly visits and bought our meats for the following week. Three brothers owned that store, and over the years, I’d established a pretty decent rapport with at least two of them.
By the time I was in my late teens/early twenties, the owners offered a hot deli bar. One of the brothers gave me a sample of this to-die-for-chicken breast made with rosemary and wine, so I asked for the recipe. He got really annoyed when I pushed for it, told me he paid to have it, and that I had no business asking. Good thing the little Italian lady who did the cooking motioned to me when said owner wasn’t looking or I would have ended up in a rather caustic exchange of words. She slipped me her phone number and gave me the recipe on the sly.
Long story short: I must have written that recipe down on two pieces of paper because at some point, I had only a list of ingredients and no directions on how to put them together. I even tried flubbing it a few times, but the dish never tasted the same as when Angelina (not her real name) made it. Of course, I’d lost her phone number too.
Somewhere between five and ten years ago, I was sitting in my doctor’s waiting room, waiting for a routine physical. An elderly woman and developmentally disabled man entered together. After a while she looked at me, nodded and finally told me I seemed familiar. I shook my head, and though I recognized the man from church, I’d never connected him as her son. She shook her head in the way someone who’s had her hardships does and started talking about where she went to church, etc. Then she told me she used to cook at my old butcher/grocer/deli before the place was sold and eventually went out of business. (It is now a custom motorcycle shop, go figure.)
I nearly jumped out of my chair. “Oh, my gosh! You’re the lady who used to make the chicken!” I immediately knocked on the receptionist’s window, secured pen and paper and begged Angelina for the rest of the recipe. (Yes, it’s at my official website. Look below for the link.
Thoughts for the day: Expect the unexpected. Be open. Smile and say hello. You’ll be surprised at who crosses your path, and why, when or how any given person will impact your life.
Here’s the link: www.joannaaislinn.com/Recipes.html
Try it! Let me know if it’s as awesome as I say!