We all have so many interesting layers. We all have so many interesting phases within ourselves - with how we understand others, and with our relationships. I had a friend that referred to my dog as an onion – you had to peel back the layers, she would say. As he is a Chihuahua, I would say he’s more like a shallot. While she is correct about Besito, it’s also a really fantastic phrase.

Yes, upon first meeting Besito he will bark at you until he is hoarse. It’s immensely irritating. But once he gets to know you he will squeal and scream and pee pee on you – because he loves you! I don’t know which is worse.

Me: upon meeting me a lot of people think I’m too serious. Or crabby. Or British. But in reality I am quite silly and happy and fun. And obviously both Besito and I have more layers than those, but you get the idea.

Relationships, in any context, are no different. In fact, they are even more complex, constantly morphing and often appearing different each time you look at them from a new perspective.

One of my best friends for the better part of a decade and I met each other when I first moved to Los Angeles. We had so much in common at the time. We were also both younger, more energetic, more adventurous, were having an absolute blast learning about each other, and always had a cooking night about once a week. We would take turns cooking or just cook together. We also loved the wine. Well, we still both love the wine.

Lamentably, while I see him regularly enough, it’s not the same. It’s more formal, less inspired, hardly adventurous, and we don’t cook together much anymore. Anyway, I’m sure it’s a phase. We all grow together and apart at times.

Last night he came over to my house for dinner. I actually don’t think he’s ever been to this particular house of mine for one of our old-school cooking nights. Day of, he mentioned that he was tired and that he probably wouldn’t be up for a “whole cooking thing”. So I said I’d cook and he could just kick it.

He showed up an hour late, sans wine, and appeared bedraggled. This is unusual. He proceeded to passively denigrate many of the things of importance to me: this blog, photography, art, you name it. He just seemed like such the downy clowny. I guess it just felt like he really didn't want to be there. Which, of course, made me feel the same.

Worst thing, he hardly mentioned anything about the Persian cucumber salad, cream of broccoli soup with Parmesan croutons - or the lasagna Bolognese I spent about 5 hours making (which was DELICIOUS). Stinker.

He probably stayed about 2 hours. Once the red wine was gone so was he. He didn’t even want to take any leftover soup or lasagna with him. Double stinker.

It’s fine. Well, it’s sad, but it’s also fine. He’s going through one of his layers, his phases. Perhaps I am as well. And so must we. Kind of like an onion. Or lasagna.

I know he’s not going anywhere. I know we’ll find our groove again. Until then, I’m going to hang back and let it figure itself out along the long road that is our future. Our friendship.

And when we do, we will have yet another layer peeled.

My Lasagna Bolognese

Serves 10-12

(Bolognese Sauce)
1 ½ Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 large carrot, peeled & diced
1 cup Cremini mushrooms, chopped
1 pound ground sirloin
2 cups milk
1 cup red wine
¼ cup tomato paste
¼ cup tomato sauce
1 cup beef stock
1 bay leaf
1 ½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoon pepper
2 Tablespoons crème fraiche

Heat the butter and olive oil in a large cast-iron or enamel pot over medium heat.

Add the onions, and cook until they begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, celery, carrot, and mushrooms, and cook until they are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the ground sirloin, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is no longer pink. Add the milk, and cook at a gentle simmer, skimming fat from surface, until the liquid has reduced by half, about 45 minutes.

Add the wine and bay leaf, and simmer until liquid is reduced by half again, about 30 minutes.

Add stock, tomato paste, tomato sauce, salt, and pepper; simmer gently until sauce thickens, 30-40 minutes. Stir in crème fraiche.

Bolognese sauce
1 16 ounce container ricotta cheese
3 egg yolks
1 cup grated Parmesan
½ cup grated mozzarella
1 ½ teaspoon coarse salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne pepper
2 Tablespoon olive oil
1 box of no-boil lasagna noodles
2 cups mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400.

Bring the sauce to room temperature. In a large bowl, whisk the ricotta, egg yolks, Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper. Chill filling until ready to assemble lasagna.

Spread about 2 cups of sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish. Place a single layer of noodles over the sauce, overlapping them slightly. Spread about 2 more cups of sauce over the noodles, and about ½ of the ricotta mixture over the sauce.

Top with a layer of noodles, again slightly overlapping. Repeat with more sauce and the remaining ricotta mixture. Top with a final layer of lasagna noodles. Spread a layer of sauce over the noodles, and finish with the grated mozzarella.

Bake until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted, about 45 minutes. Cover with aluminum foil if the cheese starts to brown to early. Let lasagna stand 10-15 minutes before serving.


  1. I needed this analysis this morning. I too am going through a 'layer' with a friend and have been frustrated. Thanks for the perspective. Can't wait till we hit another layer and I can make your lasagna for her!

  2. As usual, just beautiful writing and beautiful food. pretty damn beautiful truths, too.

  3. The lasagne is beautiful. Your experience with your friend is equally beautiful. Because as you so eloquently noted this is a layer, a stage in your relationship. The best part is that though I sensed some annoyance on your part I still was able to read between your "layers" and hear how much you still love him. That's life at it's truest. And by the way. People ALWAYS say I am difficult to know, too opinionated. But the truth is I am, introspective, and fiercly loyal. Once you get past that I am a hoot and a hollar! At least that's my (strongly held) opinion. GREG

  4. Thanks for your kind words on this post, guys! I'm so happy it translated well and resonated.

    And the lasagna recipe is pretty great too!