When I visited my father in August, I decided to make a peach cobbler and needed a recipe. I should have just turned to this blog, where I have posted a very good recipe for peach cobbler. But I went to my mother’s old cookbooks instead, because my father didn’t have any Bisquick, and my recipe calls for Bisquick.
I opened one cookbook, and a paper fell out. I recognized the handwriting immediately—not my mother’s, but my college friend’s. What could my friend have written that ended up in my mother’s cookbook?
It was a recipe for Chicken Riviera. And I remembered my friend’s mother making that for my family when we visited their home in May 1976, just after I graduated from Middlebury College.
Her mother was a wonderful cook and spent hours making fabulous dinners when I stayed with them during college vacations. The Chicken Riviera recipe was one of these Cordon Bleu level dishes.
My mother must have exclaimed over the Chicken Riviera, and my friend’s mother offered the recipe. Why did my friend write it instead of her mother? Probably because her mother cooked in Portuguese. She was Brazilian, and was more comfortable reading Portuguese. So my friend translated the recipe as she wrote it down.
I don’t remember my mother ever making Chicken Riviera, though I didn’t live at home much after 1976. I’m tempted to try it now, though it involves rich ingredients and many steps. Lots of butter and cream. You cook the chicken once, then you put the sauce on it and cook it again. It sounds like a lot of trouble, and I’m more of a fifteen minute cook.
I asked my friend after I found the recipe whether I could substitute margarine for butter and Half & Half for cream. Her response: “How should I know?” She’d never made the recipe.
Neither of us is the cook our mother was.
Both of our mothers are gone now, and their skills along with them. But our memories take us back. Our taste buds would bring the memories even closer. If only we were brave enough—or tireless enough—to follow the trail our mothers left behind.
What foods do you remember from your childhood that you never eat now?