My mother said she would never give up her famous chili recipe, not even to me. Her own flesh and blood. To my six other sisters, she had given her legendary cookie recipe, the secret to her delectable gravy, and a pasta dish that had once made the mayor cry tears of joy.
But the crown jewel of it all, her chili recipe, that she had held back. I was the oldest daughter, and I had always wanted it, worked for it, I had earned it. Who was it that had stayed in the kitchen helping to roll butter into flour for my mother's pie crust (a recipe she gave to Cindy, her fourth daughter), or squeezing tomatoes and garlic together for her special spaghetti sauce (Merribelle, her sixth daughter), over which the north side of town had gone to war against the south side of town during the last Founder's Day.
But I, her first and oldest daughter, not long before my marriage, what did I get? Nothing. Whenever it came time for her to cook the chili, my mother shooed everyone out of the kitchen, and set to work. Even the ingredients were secret, my mother was known to buy in secret, in the dark of night. She would disguise herself in scarves and rouge, go to different markets, or even different towns, just to acquire all that she needed.
Which isn't to say it wasn't worth it. Not for nothing was this chili known all over the county. But hadn't I earned it? Hadn't I slaved? And when I hired the detective agency, the local dick, he understood. But nothing work. Not tailing, not breaking in, not even truth serum.