RORY: Grandma, I can’t believe you found the recipe for Beefaroni.
EMILY: It wasn’t easy. Antonia thought I’d gone insane.
Beefaroni was earlier mentioned as a food Rory liked, and now we discover it is actually her favourite meal, requested for her special dinner.
Because home made Beefaroni is basically just macaroni, beef mince, tomato puree, and cheese, even a very average home cook could easily make up their own recipe for it. Non-cooking Rory is amazed to discover that homemade Beefaroni even exists, while equally non-domestic Emily apparently had great trouble finding a recipe.
If Antonia the cook is from Europe, and most especially from Italy, no wonder she thought Emily had gone insane with her request. She had probably never even heard of Beefaroni before.
Emily said the “secret” to Beefaroni isn’t beef. She may have got Antonia to reproduce Beefaroni based on the list of ingredients on a can, which involves all sorts of things that a regular home recipe would omit, including textured soy protein, caramel, yeast, ammonium chloride, citric acid, and the like.
Lorelai and Rory seem to assume she means the Beefaroni is made from some kind of mystery meat, and quickly stop eating. We never discover exactly what Emily means.