Baklava and the New Idea of American "Family"

todd's mom's baklava
Dear Mrs. Todd’s Mom,

My name is Sarah and I am one of your son Todd’s friends. The reason you don’t know me is that I am one of Todd’s “LA friends,” and I’m pretty sure that he doesn’t talk about his “LA friends” with you and the rest of your family in Ohio. If it makes you feel any better, though, I was born in Detroit, a very respectable midwestern city. (Don’t worry, I’m too old to know Eminem.)

I am writing to you because I wanted to let you know that when Todd came back to LA from his visit home over the winter break, he brought back a piece of your Holiday Baklava that he says you make every year. He came by the other day to drop off a little square of the baklava, which was perfectly protectively wrapped in waxed paper, then securealy sealed in plastic wrap, which is so very Todd. He must have learned to be thorough and detail-oriented from you. You did a very good job of raising your son. When I opened it, there was a perfect square of baklava cut into four precise isosceles triangles. I tasted one piece right there, and wow, Mrs. Todd’s Mom, I was blown away.

Todd had told me about the baklava before and how delicious it is, like many times, but I never believed all his bragging because well, I don’t know. I just didn’t. But now I know that your baklava is awesome. (“Awesome” is LA for “very tasty.”)

I’m writing to you, of course, to tell you how delicious your baklava is, and to thank you for letting Todd bring some back to LA with him to share. However, the real reason I’m writing is to find out how you chopped the nuts so finely into veritable pixie pearls, yet they did not become a pulverized nutty powder? How did you achieve a texture in the nut layers that is so densely packed upon visual inspection, and yet so light and airy upon taste? What is your secret technique to getting those fragile layers of phyllo dough to stick not just to each other, but also to the fairy nut dust so that they don’t peel off like layers of shale? How did you so very evenly distribute the nuts between the layers of phyllo, as if, as Todd your genius scientist son would say, as if the nuts were molecules under Fick’s Law passing in simple diffusion across delicate phyllo membranes until it was all one gorgeous sticky sugary honeyed baklava equilibirum?!?! I have made baklava before, and yours puts mine to bitter bitter shame.

I do understand that the recipe for your baklava might be a very closely guarded Todd’s Mom’s family secret that has been passed down from generation to generation, so Mrs. Todd’s Mom, I have a proposal for you.

I’d be more than happy to join your family.

I’ve thought about the possibility of marrying into your family via Todd, but I think that might cramp his pimpin’ LA-style. Besides, Todd and I could never get married because I think he’d only want me for my sewing machine, and I’m not that kind of girl. No hitching just for stitching, if you know what I mean.

So I was wondering if you, Mrs. Todd’s Mom, might, well, this might sound kind of weird, but would you want to adopt me? That way you could just pass your baklava recipe on to me as your adopted daughter. I know it may sound ridiculous because I’m Asian and if you and the rest of your family look like Todd with curly platinum blonde hair then it would be so totally obvious that I am not your biological child.

But, I think it would be really cute in the family Christmas pictures because you’d look all big-hearted motherly responsible like Angelina Jolie adopting Maddox and Pax. For bakalava, I’d even *ahem* cut my hair into a mohawk and take on a new name that ends in “X.” Like “Sarax.” Of course, I know that you’ve already raised the fruit of your own loins into fine young adults, but see, I’m already an adult, too, so it wouldn’t require much parenting. I just thought it might be a nice, easy way to share your family recipe without having to go outside the family. That’s all.

Anyway, I think your baklava is rad. (“Rad” is LA for “awesome.”)

I’m looking forward to hearing from you about the family thing!

Very truly and hopefully your future adopted Asian American daughter,

p.s. Please don’t tell Todd that I told you about the pimp thing. I think that’s probably why he never talks about his LA life with you. You know him as your genius molecular biologist son, but we, his “LA friends” know him as Todd-in-Chains.

p.p.s. Todd said something about your sauerkraut balls, too. Well, that’s just perfect because I eat kimchee, which is basically a spicy sauerkraut if you think about it. Just a thought.

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  • djjewelz

    Hello Delicious Maddox. That was a hilarious post!

  • Anonymous

    damn frigging hilarious sarah. i couldn’t get the grin off my face for a full six minutes. thanks a lot for that little piece of humor during my joyless night at work. by the way, i forgot my password for my title which is why i’m going in anon.

  • hermz

    oh man… my mom’s gonna die when I send her this. She’s famous!

  • hermz

    oh man… my mom’s gonna die when I send her this. She’s famous!

  • yunjae

    the heart of the imp beats strong. funny stuff

  • kitchenmage

    Addendum to Mrs. Todd’s Mom:

    Ive been putting off making baklava for a couple of months now because I haven’t seen the recipe that inspired me to all that work. You know, the one true baklava.

    Well, now I know I have been waiting for this. Sarah has shown me the path to you, Mrs. Todd’s Mom. You, who might just be the Master I have sought. A High Goddess in the Baklavite Order.

    Please, Mrs. Todd’s Mom, adopt Sarah — who I will then convince to become my longLostSeparatedAtBirthSister, at least long enough to get the recipe out of her. grin

  • sarah

    djjewelz: i think actually,i would have been perfect to be zahara, but i need at least three days in the mystic tanner. LOL!

    anon: glad i could make you laugh!

    hermz: is she going to ask you about the chains? LOL!

    yun jae! hi!

    kitchenmage: LOL!you are too funny! we canboth be adopted together as twins, or you can marry todd! LOLLLL!

  • Tokyoastrogirl


    You just made my day. Hilarious.

    Let me know if they decide to adopt you.

  • Craig

    Very funny, I think you should try to be adopted into every type of cuisine, can you imagine a brat topped with kimchee on french baquette in the banh mi tradition. Take that Dodger Dog.

  • sarah

    you know, that is the beauty of being american – i am every cuisine :)

    and strangely, i have almost seen that combo – in berkeley, there was this korean-owned sandwich place that made bulgogi sandiwches. it was bulgogi and kimchee on a French roll. LOL!

  • Eve


    Todd-next time you better bring me back a piece too!!!

  • MeowMix

    I am so in love with this site LOL! You’re an amazing writer Sarah…….

  • jason

    best. entry. ever. period.

  • Russkar

    Sarah, while your waiting for the Adoption to go through you could always head over to PANO’s (Hollywood bl) and get an Baklava FIX?

  • Mrs. Todd’s Mom

    Sarah, I’ve been trying to get Todd married off for years but have never thought of exchanging him for a recipe. How about it?

    Welcome to the family, no mohawk required.

    Read your file on Peter Jennings. I miss him too.

  • Kath

    Cute story. I love the part where you say, “no hitching just for stitching”. LOL!!

  • Anonymous

    The hitching line is funny, but this one is even better: “(“Rad” is LA for “awesome.”)”

  • Anonymous

    I have had the honor of knowing Mrs Todd’s Mom for many years. I even worked for Mr Todd’s Dad way back in the day when Mr Todd was a mere sprout. I have had many fine dining opportunities involving food Mrs Todd’s Mom has prepared. So believe me when I say you have chosen your adoptive kitchen well, Grasshopper. Wait until you see her extensive cross-referenced / cross-indexed recipe card file. Note I said “file”, as no mere recipe card box could hold the key to all those delicacies. We always know a meal prepared by Mrs Todd’s Mom will be “yummy”. (“Yummy” is Ohio for “awesome”.) J L Gibson

  • Lillbet

    Whoo-HOO kimchee! And baklava. Oog.

  • YouGuysKnow

    That was hi-lar-i-ous. Sarah you so totally rock. I hope Mrs. Todd’s Mom does decide to adopt you and give you the recipe. I think you would look good with a little Madhawk (Maddox+mohawk), or at least the lower half of your face would, since that’s all we’ve really seen. p.s. if you don’t know Eminem, do you at least know Kid Rock? Your fan, Easily Pleased

  • Sam

    did Craig just call you a brat???

  • City Muse

    Dagnabbit, I KNEW I’d regret visiting your blog late at night like this because it’s gonna make me hungry. And laugh, too. Great post.

    I’m an Asian foodie in L.A. like you, waving hello and coming out of lurkdom. And oh, you’ve been blogrolled. =P

  • Anthony

    A real nice food blog. came in via mahanandi’s. And the design is very clean… feel like copying lol.

    Do visit my Bachelor Cook blog too..

  • Silvia

    That baklava does look super yummy!
    So spill it Sarah, did she give up the family heirloom?

  • sarah

    jason: thank you! but hopefully, the entries will get better! i’d hate to think i’ve already peaked! :)

    russkar: i’ll have to try pano’s! but hollywood blvd…are they open past midnight? ;)

    mrs. todd’s mom: wow, you stopped by! did i get todd into trouble? :)

    kath: hi! thanks for stopping by and reading!

    anonymous: “anonymous” is LA for “lurker” – come out!

    jl: oh yeah, i knew mrs. todd’s mom was my kind of woman. and i know yummy – i went to high school in cincinnati ;)

    liz: whoa! you’re right. kimchee mixed into layers of phyllo? lethal combo right there…

    ep: kid rock is my half brother, but i try not to bring up that fact. LOL!

    sam: i think craig DID call me a brat LOL! but i’v been called things that are MUCH worse (or better, depending on the context *wink*)

    city muse: hello! another l.a.-sian! glad you’re here!

    anthony: thanks for stopping by and thanks for the compliments about the design :)

    silvia: well, no recipe yet, but i’m working on it! shaving my headinto mohawk this week…

  • Catherine

    LOL! What a funny and witty post. I’m rooting for you! *Delicious Life painted across forehead & waiving oversized sign that reads: FREE SARAH!*

    Wait…wrong sign.


  • judy chance

    ha ha Sarah-
    She (Mrs. Todds mom) taught me how to make it!! Come to ATL and she might show you. u might need to marry Todd

  • MM

    That is one of the funniest things I’ve read! Totally hilarious! And I am all for supporting polygamous cupboard love.

  • Fatemeh

    Love, love, Luuurrvvv… this post. Wicked (that’s San Francisco for “Rad”).

  • lindsay

    this post = fab.


  • Anonymous

    That was a cute, funny story.. You can try reading Angelina Jolie bio. I love it.

  • kamran siddiqi

    Sarah, why do you crack me up so much?! OMG! I almost peed my pants from laughing so hard while reading this!

  • Sarah J. Gim

    kamran: glad you got a laugh out of it! I don’t know why but this post cracks me up, too. haha. Mostly because I really would love to be adopted into their family :D

  • Trissa

    I’m so loving this post – too funny. Did you get the recipe?

  • Susan

    That was friggin’ hilarious….I wasn’t even too disappointed to reach the end of the post and find no recipe!

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