An Open Letter To Tuna Noodle Casserole

by Amy Lindorff

Dear Tuna Noodle Casserole,

“Desperation, laziness, overwhelming craving: I say these are three conditions that drive a person to make a tuna noodle casserole.”
– Melissa Gray, The Salt

I beg to differ. Overwhelming craving is the only condition. As you know, if you’ve read the rest of these letters, I live in Los Angeles very near my uncle, Jerry, but very far from my grandmothers. It takes two hands to count the number of times Jerry and I have gotten together to make you, for the sole reason that we missed the rest of the family.

Clockwise from upper left: turkey butt stuffing, sweet potatoes, stuffing from the box, green bean casserole. All my grandmother’s classic recipes, good friends of tuna noodle. Insider tip: the butt stuffing is the best.

Both of my grandmothers are fantastic cooks. My dad’s mom has always been more, let’s say, adventurous. A lot of things involving eggplant and liver. I also have a number of recipes she cut out of the newspaper and later marked “Good.” But it’s my maternal grandmother who makes you, tuna noodle. She makes you like nobody’s business. The classic way. No double digit ingredient list, no mushrooms with names she wouldn’t pronounce correctly anyway. Just you.

I’m sure the updated recipe from the article above is delicious. I love all the ingredients (minus peas, which should NEVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES WHATSOEVER BE MIXED INTO ANY CASSEROLE, YUCK YUCK YUCK), but I don’t eat you because I want a delicious, gourmet meal. I eat you because I want to pretend like I am seated at my grandma’s kitchen table in Tillamook, Oregon, while the fireplace is making that creepy noise because of the wind and my grandma is doing dishes, talking about “those sluts” in the latest issue of People magazine. You are not in need of an update, as the article’s title suggests. You are perfect just as you are.

Before I let you go, I’d like to ask your opinion of something and, with any luck, finally settle a decades-old family debate. One of our most heated debates (yes, more heated than “Is it ‘padlock’ or ‘paddle-lock?’” Do you prefer to be eaten with or without ketchup on top of you? What’s that? No ketchup is allowed? Exactly what I thought. Thanks for settling things.

Never change.

Love, Amy

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