Image © Leigh-Ann Martin
My favourite dish to eat at Christmas, hands down, is my mother’s Lasagna. We (my entire immediate family) love my Ma’s lasagna and enjoy digging into this rich, ‘one-pot’ meal at Christmas lunch.
I wrote a blog post on this last Christmas while on my yearly trip back home to Trinidad. I can’t recall when her lasagna first made its way to our Christmas lunch plate but as far as I can remember, it has been the focal dish. She only makes it at Christmas; 6 to 8 Pyrex dishes of lasagna, and carefully handpicks which of us to award an entire pie for our own household.
Abstinence from meat leading up to Christmas Day, heightens our cravings for this dish. This tradition started with my father. One year after Divali or so, he gave up eating poultry, pork and red meat until Christmas morning. As we grew older my Ma’, brothers, and I jumped onto the bandwagon, eating weekday and Sunday lunches comprised only of soups and stews that were made with lots of vegetables—Ochro and Dasheen Bush, Pigeon Peas, Red Beans and fish like Carite and Red fish—for no less than a month before Christmas.
I’m convinced that she can easily make lasagna in her sleep as she has had years to master the recipe, understand the elements and make it her own. With added fresh and staple ingredients like pineapple chunks, olives and sweet dark raisins in her meat sauce made with ground beef, the taste is reminiscent of a richer, meatier, saucy pastelle filling. But not lacking the bold flavours of fresh garlic, tomatoes and dried oregano. A rich, creamy béchamel made with sharp white cheddar and cream cheese, is used instead of ricotta. In the assembly of the lasagna, the cooked pasta interchanges vertical and horizontal directions to hold form better when cutting into lasagna.
I always look forward to enjoying the company of my close family, as we sit at the table to devour my Ma’s lasagna for Christmas lunch. I’m sure baby Jesus himself would ask for seconds!