Tortellini is classic Tisdale food. (Maureen Tisdale / The Detroit News)
This past weekend, my two sisters and I conspired to start planning for our family Thanksgiving in Maine, coordinating arrivals, food and room assignments at the vacation home we’re borrowing from old family friends.
It’s given me family food on the brain. That, and saying good-bye to October, brought back memories of a visit from my brother Brice around this time last year and some amusing brother food memories.
Like all Tisdales, Brice loves family. I still remember fondly the mock outrage in his voice one time when we were bonding over missing the family and I tattled that those who were together were having tortellini.
“What???” Brice said. “But that’s classic Tisdale food!” And it is, tied not to special occasions or heritage or anything else out of the ordinary, but because the cheese-filled little pasta bundles were very ordinary when we were young: a crowd-pleaser Mom served often to the seven of us kids and Dad.
I can’t even eat tortellini anymore, since flour stopped being my friend some 10 years ago, but I was step-in-step with Brice’s faux betrayal: How dare Other Tisdales have a classic family food without us?
It was right around this time last year when Brice drove up from Ohio, where he was working at the time, for a visit. We’d just unexpectedly lost our brother Bobby, and even after a whirlwind of our whole clan going to Maine for the funeral, we both were craving a little more processing and family time.
When I knew Brice was coming, one of my first thoughts was: Get tortellini. (A quick second: how Bobby would have put mayonnaise on it; both he and our father had a no-holds-barred relationship with the eggy white stuff, and I’ll never forget Bobby’s love for mayonnaise on pasta, spaghetti in particular. It’s just one of those him things.)
So in between long chilly walks, the occasional sitcom binge in the man cave and long talks swapping memories of Bobby and other Deep Thoughts – in other words, a perfect weekend with my brother Brice – I served up some tortellini among other warm October meals. I even used the pasta to lure Brice to stay a little longer on Sunday, a major coup in my book.
Funny sidenote: When my husband saw the packages on the counter and asked, “What’s that?” I got extremely offended. “That’s tortellini of course!” I said in outrage. “It’s classic Tisdale food!” He just started laughing, explaining to Brice I’d definitely NEVER made it in our four years of marriage.
I have made it a few times since. I haven’t seen the massive bags from Sam’s we grew up on in years and years, but I found an inexpensive tortellONi — seems to be pretty much the same thing — at Aldi’s (they had a mushroom-filled and a cheese-filled when I stopped by this Monday). In another act of betrayal I’ll work to forgive, my husband actually doesn’t love it.
I guess some foods are only special attached to the memories of the ones you shared it with originally.
What is classic YOUR family food? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below the recipe. You need a Facebook account to add comments, but they’re easy to sign up for, and free. Over the next few days, Detroit News Food Editor Maureen Tisdale will respond to comments or questions. You also can follow her on Twitter @reentiz. Join the discussion!