Friday, October 06, 2006

Tuna casserole made me feel normal

As a kid, I was ambivalent about tuna casserole. Actually, I never liked tuna until I found albacore as an adult, and was actually kinda mad at my Mom for making me eat the other kind (whatever it is) for so long. For my schooltime lunches, the only way she could make me eat my tuna salad sandwiches was to provide me with a bag of bbq potato chips so that I could line the tuna salad to make a bbq buffer just so that I didn't have to taste the tuna. However, for some odd reason of logic to a kid, tuna casserole seemed to be a somewhat acceptable delivery mechanism of the dreaded tunafish. Sorta like choosing a weapon for your own death... I exaggerate only slightly. I loved macaroni, just like any American kid did, but between the icky tuna, the ubiquitous gooey Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup and the emergency potato chips, I only stuffed it into my face when I had to.

Fast forward to now. Now that I can't have pasta of any sort due to my wheat allergy, macaroni looks downright GOURMET. I found a brand of quinoa/corn macaroni at Whole Foods that tasted good, had a chewy texture, and ACTUALLY TASTED NORMAL. I was thrilled. However, since I haven't cooked pasta for myself in years, I was caught off guard with nothing to sauce it with. Time to dig in the pantry. Dig, dig. I found myself a can of albacore. The good kind. I had organic peas. Check. But no Cream of Mushroom soup (thank God...that stuff has enough sodium and preservatives to last into the next Ice Age). I whipped up a quick fake bechamel (no dairy, no wheat) that was pretty darned tasty. Gave it all a quick turn and voila! Tuna Noona Casserole! (Hey, I was eight...that's what we called it.)

I was abnormally happy with the result. I felt so comforted that I could have suburban childhood food again. Nothing fancy or gourmet, just simple. All I was missing was the layer of potato chips, and it would have been perfect. Apparently, even the Food Allergy Queen CAN go home again occasionally. Thanks Mom.

"Bechamel"/Classic White Sauce Makes 1 cup

1 cup dairy substitute of your choice, unsweetened (soy milk, rice milk, almond milk)
1 T. cornstarch
2 T. mayonnaise
salt and white pepper to taste

Whisk cornstarch into liquid to break up lumps, then slowly warm until sauce comes to a boil. This sauce should be smooth and thick, with some body to it, like heavy cream. Sprinkle more cornstarch if it's too runny after it boils. Conversely, thin with more liquid if necessary.

Remove from heat, and whisk in mayonnaise and salt and pepper to taste.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My! You have good writing skills. I'd say it's a talent!