I was introduced to The Good Girl by Mary Kubica through my book club. I probably would not have picked it up otherwise, but I was pleasantly surprised by the story and enjoyed this book very much. It’s always an especially good thing when a book that I may never have read ends up being good and has some meaningful food in it.
The novel centers around the disappearance of Mia Dennett. A young woman who is kidnapped by Colin Thatcher. Colin’s job was to kidnap Mia as part of an extortion plot and deliver her to his employers. Things change unexpectedly when Colin suddenly decides to hide Mia in a secluded cabin in Minnesota until he can figure out a better plan. The story is told from the viewpoints of Mia’s mother Eve, the detective on Mia’s case and Colin; through their perspectives we get a very good look into human and familial entanglements. I liked this book because it was more about human interaction than a suspense thriller.
There is not a lot of food mentioned in this book, but one item stands out-lasagna. It appears in the book when Eve makes a lasagna birthday feast for her missing daughter. Eve makes the lasagna in Mia’s absence as part of the ritual of caring for her.
“”It’s for her,” she says. “Mia loves lasagna. Any kind of pasta. She’s the only one I could always count on to eat what I’d cooked. It’s not that I expect her to show up. I know that won’t happen. But I couldn’t…”” -Mary Kubica
Making the lasagna demonstrates a connection Eve has with her daughter, when the connection is disrupted by Mia’s abduction it is evident in the cooking process. When Eve is making the birthday lasagna she is breaking down simultaneously as the ingredients of the dish “break down”. She breaks the garlic with her palm, the salt shaker falls off the counter and spills, she burns the meat for the sauce all while breaking down into tears before erupting into anger.
Finally, the fact that the prominent food in the novel is a lasagna is meaningful. Lasagna is comprised of layers and several different components which could be a metaphor for the composition of the book. The events in the book are told through several different characters; having several different perspectives on the events in the book give it all a very complex and layered feel.
For this dish I didn’t have to do very much research because I frequently make lasagna for my family. I used ingredients that were mentioned in the novel to make it authentic to the book. I generally make my own sauce from scratch but I don’t think that Eve did based on the comments from Detective Hoffman, “…Mrs. Dennett is a one-trick pony in the kitchen. She’s probably got a chicken recipe and chances are she can boil water. But that’s all”. -Mary Kubica
So feel free to use bottled sauce or any other shortcuts for this if you prefer.
To begin, I browned sausage in a skillet with some chopped onions and added it to my sauce. Then I mixed the cheeses, herbs and egg together and set aside. I then layered my dish and baked. I don’t cook my noodles beforehand and I have never had an issue but cook them if that’s what you prefer.
Overall, this dish is a classic comfort food. It is symbolic of home, family, and togetherness in this story. It is also a symbol of the complexity of the story telling and the layers of perception it takes to get to the truth about Mia’s disappearance. Regardless of whether you agree with my ideas about the comfort or the complexity of lasagna, it is delicious.
Eve Dennett’s Lasagna
1pd Ground Italian Sausage
1/2 cup minced onion
24 oz Pasta Sauce
30 oz Ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
2 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
16 oz Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1 Box of Lasagna Noodles
salt and pepper to taste
- Brown sausage in skillet with onions. Add sauce and simmer 5 minutes.
- Mix Ricotta, parmesan, egg and spices. Set aside.
- Spread 1/2 a cup of sauce in the bottom of a 9X13 inch pan. Place a layer of noodles to fit, top with 1/3 of the cheese mixture and 1/3 of the mozzarella cheese, and 1/2 the sauce. Repeat with noodles, cheeses, and sauce. Then noodles, the remaining ricotta mixture and the remaining shredded mozzarella.
- Cover and bake in 350 degree oven for 50 minutes. Uncover and let cook for another 20 minutes or until brown and bubbly. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving.