By the Time You Read This presents a narrative alternate-universe timeline of life at Yale, published in biweekly installments by Maude Lechner (BK ’24, Herald staff) and Dory Johnson (JE ’24).
Wintertime in chilly New Haven is a period of beauty and festivity. Snow begins to fall, students eagerly await holiday gatherings with their families, and Yale Hospitality celebrates everyone’s favorite Holiday Dinner. But what about those wonderful everyday dishes?
The authors of this column were given the opportunity to celebrate one of the unsung heroes of Yale dining: Mother, of Mother’s Beef Brisket. We sat down with her on Old Campus to hear the inside scoop about her famous recipe.
Maude: Thank you so much for agreeing to meet with us, Mother. We really appreciate the opportunity to talk to the face behind the brisket.
Mother: Thank you, dear. I so love talking to Yalies.
Dory: For starters, what do people call you when they’re not calling you “Mother?”
Mother: Well you see, that’s my name.
Dory: Your actual legal name is “Mother?”
Mother: Yes, dear. It’s Mother Schweitzer. “Mom” for short. It was popular in the 60s.
Maude: Okay. Let’s jump right in. Could you walk us through the process of preparing your famous beef brisket?
Mother: That’s an awfully specific question, dear.
Maude: Oh, I’m sorry.
Mother: No, no, it’s fine, dear. I always begin by going to my local butcher on Tuesdays. When I’m back home, I pull out a big cutting board. Then, I get all my ingredients together and cook them until Mother’s Beef Brisket is done. There’s absolutely nothing better than brisket, in my opinion. Why would you ever try, say, a meatball, when a brisket is right there?
Dory: Good point, Mother. Your brisket has such a distinctive flavor. What kinds of spices do you use?
Mother: Only the best.
Maude: Right, so which ones? Thyme? Rosemary? Cumin?
Mother: What’s it to you, dear? Surely you’re not trying to make Mother’s Beef Brisket, are you? Or to teach someone else to make Mother’s Beef Brisket?
Dory: Okay, um, moving on, Mother, we’d love to know where your brisket recipe comes from. Is it a family recipe or did you develop it yourself?
Mother: My Grandmother Schweitzer taught me to make brisket when I was just a little girl. She would speak to me of the value and courage cooked into every brisket. Value you would never find in, say, a meatball, zesty or otherwise.
Maude: Mother, this is the second time that you’ve mentioned meatballs. I’m curious to hear how they relate to your brisket.
Mother: Don’t play dumb with me, young woman. I can spot a mole from a mile away. Tell Father I won’t play his little games.
Dory: Who is Father?
Mother: Oh, yes, pretend you don’t know. Pretend you don’t know Father, of Father’s Zesty Meatballs. He’s been trying to uncover my secret spices for years, in an attempt to replace me as Yale’s preeminent meat artist.
Maude: Wait, who is Father? Are you married to him?
Mother: Father’s jealousy and greed destroyed our relationship. And Father’s Zesty Meatballs are destroying my life. I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. All I can think about are those Zesty Meatballs eclipsing my beloved Beef Brisket.
It was at this point that a man slid down one of the nearby Old Campus oaks like it was a fire pole. Our brief yet informative interview with Mother was coming to an unexpected conclusion.
Father: Mother, I never wanted to overshadow you. I saw this as an opportunity to show you that I, too, care about meat and meat-based dishes.
Father: Remember that moonlit night in ’78… remember the sandy beaches of Santorini… we fed each other teeny, tiny, little meatballs in red sauce and then made sweet, sweet love on a blanket under the stars? I thought if I could only add Father’s Zesty Meatballs to Yale’s menu, you would taste and remember my love for you. But I could never make it tasty enough for Rafi Taherian, Associate Vice President of Yale Hospitality, to add my dish to the weekly rotation of recipes—that’s why I’ve tried to find out your secret spices. Every time that I’ve tasted Mother’s Beef Brisket, I’ve felt a tugging at my heart and knew that the same spices which called to you through time were also calling to me.
Mother: My darling!
Yes, the winter months at Yale are truly a time for family and food. We at the Herald would like to thank Mother again for speaking with us, and for her delicious brisket. It seems that love was the secret spice all along.
But of course, by the time you read this, everything might be different.