Sherry Harris Talks Lasagna

The Chicks welcome back the always-entertaining Sherry Harris, author of the popular Sarah Winston Garage Sale mysteries. Take it away, Sherry!

Thanks Chicks for having me back! Ellen recently posted a link on Facebook to a funny article that was on The Onion about an Italian grandmother talking about lasagna. (Here’s the link – warning there is some bad language –

The nonna from The Onion

The gist of the article is that there is a supposed Italian grandmother whose family wants her recipe for lasagna that they think is secret and has been handed down for generations. The grandmother on the other hand doesn’t want to admit that the recipe is off a pasta box, that anyone can make a lasagna, and soufflé is what is hard to make.


The article made me laugh because one of the subplots in I Know What You Bid Last Summer is about a lasagna bake-off. The book opens with Sarah’s good friend Angelo DiNapoli saying, “I need your help, Sarah.” Sarah can’t imagine what she could possible do for him, but is willing to do just about anything. She even thinks: Angelo and his wife have done so much for me that I’d gladly do anything this side of legal to help them. And maybe the other side of legal, if it was really important.

Angelo finally tells her he’s entering a lasagna bake-off and that he wants her to check out the top five competitors’ lasagna. Sarah, of course, says yes. Then Angelo adds that he wants her to bring him back a piece and that he doesn’t want anyone to find out what she’s doing. In the meantime, Angelo’s wife is telling Sarah she doesn’t have to do this. But Sarah is ready to set out on this quest.

The Italian grandma story reminds me of another completely true story. Family friends had an Italian exchange student years ago. The host mom was a cooking teacher and fabulous cook. She kept making him plates of spaghetti and he kept telling her it wasn’t like home. Finally, one night when she was in a hurry she heated up a can of Chef Boyardee. The student tells her this tasted like home!

Back to I Know What You Bid Last Summer – I spent a lot of time thinking and writing about lasagna for the next several months. I put Sarah in some situations that I hope you will find funny. I always like to use a bit of comic relief to balance the more serious murder investigations Sarah becomes involved with. In this case Sarah is running an athletic equipment swap for the Ellington school board and finds the superintendent dead in the supply closet.

Sarah goes back and forth between investigating the school board members who all seem to have a reason not to like the superintendent and going to local restaurants to eat lasagna without anyone recognizing her.

After I turn a book in, our family tradition is to go out to dinner. After I sent off I Know What You Bid Last Summer we went to an Italian restaurant (go figure) to celebrate. I hadn’t eaten lasagna in over a year, but I opened the menu, spotted it, and thought, “I’m so sick of lasagna!” Then I realized it was Sarah who is sick of lasagna not me. But I ordered the Marsala anyway.

Bio: Sherry Harris is the Agatha Award nominated author of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale mystery series. She is the Vice President of Sisters in Crime National, a member of the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime, the New England Chapter of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers. In her spare time Sherry loves reading, is a patent holding inventor, and is a former model (okay, it was just the one time at Talbots last year, but it was fun). Sherry, her husband, and guard dog Lily are living in northern Virginia until they figure out where they want to move to next.

Readers, what’s your favorite Italian dish?

28 thoughts on “Sherry Harris Talks Lasagna

  1. Sherry… Wait! What? I got to get this one. Even though I just got #3. These books are awesome. I love how you explain military terminology without going overboard. And being prior military, spot on good descriptions.
    The premises are so fun!
    I can’t wait to meet you at Malice. Heard you are right around the corner from me. Not a stalker, someone at B&N recommended your books and said you lived in my hood.
    And congrats to the chicks on the list. Hmm! Who will I vote for????🐤

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks so much for visiting us, Sherry! My mother is Italian, born there, and I grew up with homemade pasta, sauce, meatballs, bracciole, etc. I would have to say my favorite Italian dish is anything my mother, Nonna, or Zia made. AND can’t wait to read your latest. Anyone going to LCC, Sherry is on a panel I’m moderating about cozy mysteries. It’s going to be GREAT.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This sub-plot was a riot and definitely a light break from the more serious murder. (Really, I need to get the review for the book written. This is the longest I’ve gone between finishing a book and reviewing it in years.)

    My favorite Italian meal? Yes. I’ll take anything. Although I must say I have a very soft spot for lasagna.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. What fun — and I love that title! Thanks for visiting, Sherry. And I’m excited that we’ll be on a panel together at LCC, with the fab Ellen Byron as our moderator!

        Liked by 3 people

  4. Yum! I love lasagna. My mom’s recipe called for making a complicated checkerboard pattern of mozzarella and ricotta, then alternating the checkerboard pattern on the second layer. One time my boyfriend asked me, “Why don’t you just make one layer be ricotta and one layer be mozzarella?” I had a moment of, “Because that’s not how you make it!” Then like three minutes later I was like, “Hey, yeah, why *don’t* we do that?!?”

    Aaaand…. now I’m hungry.

    P.S. I finished All Murders Final! — and I loved it! I’m excited to read about Sarah’s next adventures.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. My favorite line of this post was “and I thought, ‘I’m so sick of lasagna!’ Then I realized it was Sarah who is sick of lasagna , not me.” Ha! Now THAT’S getting into your character! My favorite lasagne are the ones made with Béchamel sauce (cream–yum!) and spinach, as well as red sauce, meat and cheese. But they are labor-intensive if you do everything from scratch. Your books sounds terrific, Sherry! (Now why can’t I be asked to judge a lasagna contest?)

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Well, I never had non-Franco-American (Chef Boyardee’s cousin?) spaghetti until I went to college and had the cafeteria kind. Luckily, I lived in Brooklyn for 20 years in Carroll Gardens and Windsor Terrace so now I can brag about having delicious lasagne (actually, I like manicotti cuz it’s all about the cheese for me!).

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Oh, Ellen mentioned braciole – I haven’t had that in years!
    This made me think of the time I visited my sister’s mother-in-law, Concetta, who is from Naples and makes the most wonderful lasagna with her homemade sauce. She would never reveal her recipe. One day we visited her and Concetta went next door to get tomatoes from her neighbor. We sneaked into the kitchen where the sauce was bubbling on the stove. My sister opened the trash can and there on top – an empty jar of Ragu sauce!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Coming from a long line of great Italian cooks, I find it really hard to believe that mushy , sweet Chef Boyardee could be mistaken for homemade, but I don’t doubt the ‘secret recipe from a box.
    I was sworn to secrecy with the family sauce recipe, (my sister, who cannot keep a secret, was never told).When the oldest sister, my aunt who was the last one born in The Old Country, told her non-Italian daughter-in-law the main secrets, my mother and her sisters were disgusted.
    Fast-forward to a couple of years ago and here I was , reading Rosie Genova’s Italian Kitchen cozy mysteries and there , right on the pages, are HER nonna’s (grandma’s) secrets to her sauce, the very ones my aunt told her son’s wife!

    Liked by 1 person

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