Conner’s mom was busy at the stove, with three pots boiling and a wooden spoon stirring something brown and thick in a small saucepan. The kitchen was a symphony of aromas, with the rich, earthy scent of spices mingling with the tangy sweetness of tomatoes simmering away. Today, she was preparing a feast, but not just any feast. Today, she was tackling the ambitious task of making the perfect eggplant parmigiana, a dish that had eluded her culinary grasp for years.

Conner, on the other hand, was far less interested in the culinary arts. He was sprawled on the living room floor, engrossed in a book, the sounds of his mother’s cooking a comforting background noise to his adventures. However, today was different. Today, his mother had enlisted his help for her culinary quest, and he knew better than to think he could escape the duties of being her sous-chef.