David Lauderdale

Lauderdale: Man throws away wife’s family recipes and lives to tell the story — so far

Family recipes are a staple at the annual dinner on the grounds at the Old Sheldon Church on the second Sunday after Easter. The meal follows a service that has been sponsored by the Parish Church of St. Helena in Beaufort since 1925.
Family recipes are a staple at the annual dinner on the grounds at the Old Sheldon Church on the second Sunday after Easter. The meal follows a service that has been sponsored by the Parish Church of St. Helena in Beaufort since 1925. dlauderdale@islandpacket.com

This, my friends, is your recipe for disaster. Read it and weep.

A friend whose job keeps her on the road for long periods of time reported this downer on Easter Sunday:

“Since I’ve been in Atlanta, my husband has been on a throw-away frenzy.

“You can imagine how surprised (if you want me to be nice) I was to find he threw away all my favorite recipes.

“They were clipped and in rubber bands in a drawer in the kitchen that I must admit gets a little junky, but I straighten it up every time I’m home. The recipes were frequently used by me and were from my grandmother, my mother, mother-in-law, friends and many more.

“So I’m sitting here trying to make a list of all those missing and trying to contact family and friends who are still here. Lots of tears as I think about the part of my past he as thrown away.”

I will not reveal her name because she lives close by in Savannah, and I’d hate for a lynch mob armed with rolling pins to march down there and beat her husband into a lard tart.

Just the other day, I told my beautiful bride that, every time I throw something away, I regret it. She said that was a lie — I’ve never thrown anything away.

Occasionally, our “famous” recipes may need to be thrown away.

For Harriet Keyserling of Beaufort, it would be her famous moussaka.

Twice I was taken by ambulance to Beaufort Memorial Hospital for treatment for advanced moussaka poisoning.

Pat Conroy

Well, at least according to her friend Pat Conroy. He brought it up at her memorial service. He delivered a beautiful eulogy titled “Seat at the Table.” When Pat passed away this month, gnashing of teeth was heard all over town when it dawned upon us that it meant he would not be writing eloquent eulogies for us.

“Harriet was the worst cook who ever served a meal in a Beaufort kitchen,” Conroy said. “The only thing I rejoiced in when I heard of her death was I would never have to eat moussaka again in my natural life.”

He said he’d been invited to her table a hundred times and a hundred times had to suffer through moussaka. He loved the company, but said, “Twice I was taken by ambulance to Beaufort Memorial Hospital for treatment for advanced moussaka poisoning.”

Conroy said he was still trying to make Harriet laugh. But it’s no exaggeration to say that throwing out stained and torn recipes should be a capital offense.

These are the ones that are the recipes for life itself. They are dinner on the grounds, Thanksgiving at Granny’s, lunch after church, homecoming and pig pickin’s.

These index-card recipes have extra notes scrawled on them that divulge inner secrets — if you can read the handwriting, or see through chocolate spills. The notes only let you know there are even more secrets that your grandmother took to her grave, so you practice your own famous recipe.

The ingredients are hints from Mrs. Dull, doctrine from Betty Crocker, receipts from Charleston, clippings from Southern Living, style from the Junior League and miracles from the church basement.

Then you stir in your own family’s twists, some as crooked as the alcoholic uncle, others as mysterious as Coca-Cola recipe.

And you keep them in a wooden box with a broken top. Or maybe a junk drawer. When company’s coming, you flip through them for ideas. And you savor their stories even more than their aroma. And it never, ever occurs to you to throw them away. No matter how many times they sent Pat Conroy to the hospital.

David Lauderdale: 843-706-8115, @ThatsLauderdale

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