In a couple of weeks its Thanksgiving. I find that the meal, that huge surge of food, does not taste quite as good on that day as it does on others. I'll be visiting my mother on the holiday where I will have this stuffing: we call it, phonetically, gaw-n-za. How to spell it, no one knows. I'll be making it this Sunday, stuffed into a chicken or two for us and some friends.
Last Sunday, we had the opening reception for 'reaganography' in Greenpoint. The opening was a success, on turn out alone, and had one surprise visitor: Leonard Lopate. Now Leonard had a show the following Monday that discussed Reagan's influence on the end of the USSR. I couldn't listen, I had to run to work, but I imagined, briefly that he mentioned the show on his show.
Three years ago, I was a voice on the phone during a segment about Thanksgiving recipes with Ruth Reichl and Leonard. I submitted the gaw-n-za recipe. When I engaged Leonard at the opening I didn't mention the Ruth Reichl segment. Two and a half years prior I met Ruth at The MacDowell Colony, mentioned it, but she couldn't recall the segment. I did, however, mention that there must only be 2 degrees between Leonard and 8 million New Yorkers.
While the recipe has remained the same in my mother's cooking, I've been messing with it. This year, little shifts: the rice is basmati, not carolina long grain, the mushrooms are small portobello, not white, and I added to the beef and pork a little bit of lamb over the Jimmy Dean that somehow made it into the recipe. Other years I've added chestnuts and raisins (as my grandfather would have). I think I would like dried cranberries or other dried fruit (apricot?) with a nut, maybe pine or pecan. My mother wouldn't go for these changes, but in spirit it's the same recipe.
The recipe listed on the WNYC website omits one ingredient that seems to go into all my family's cooking: pecorino romano. Its the salty kick in everything they do.