Monday, November 12, 2012

Pasta with Tomato Sauce

Making pasta, 1980.

Tonight I didn't do anything special, and if you really want to know about it, I had pasta with some very plain tomato sauce. My son was perfectly happy with this, and almost finished his rather large bowl. Though that might have been because it was racchette pasta, which look like little tennis racquets. I was actually perfectly happy with it, too. It's one of the more comforting dishes I could list. Pasta with tomato sauce and a little bit of cheese sprinkled on top is something I ate two, maybe three, times a week growing up. On Sunday morning, my dad would start cooking the sauce. There was meat to be browned, wine to deglaze, herbs to disperse, and onions and carrots to chop finely.

(And no, we did not call it gravy. I never heard people calling tomato sauce "gravy" until I saw the Sopranos. Seriously. We also didn't call it "marinara." And we certainly didn't call it ragu, because you know, it wasn't ragu. I totally remember those stupid Ragu tomato sauce commercials though.)

Every once in a while we would have meat sauce, which was always exciting. If that happened, fresh pasta most assuredly was made, and it was usually ravioli or tortelli. It was a long day of cooking, and generally dad did all of it, as my mother cooked during the week. It was a ritual, passed down from his childhood, and I will admit, we kids pretty much resented it. We were always busy playing with friends, and no one could understand why you needed to be home at noon, to eat a huge meal at 1 p.m. For TWO HOURS. And you sat at the table until my dad finished his espresso. Who did that? Do you see my expression in the photo above? I always enjoyed being a cook's assistant, and even though I like to think that I was an eager assistant, I probably wasn't always.

Of course, it's now one of my fond memories.

I still like to make large pots of sauce. And I love to make pasta when I have an abundance of eggs, but right now the chickens are molting, and that means no eggs. We don't have a Sunday meal, either. I do make sure that we all sit down and eat together, though, which doesn't sound like much, but I do think it means something. It makes me realize how hard keeping a tradition is, if you don't have every one committed to it, or someone disciplining it. It also makes me think about how I didn't seem to care about losing this  and other traditions, until now, older, I realize they kept us together in a way.


  1. Peculiar how time changes perspective, isn't it? I experience that on nearly a daily basis! Pasta with tomato sauce (and the occasional bolognese sauce) is one my all time favorite meals. If the hubs weren't such a carnivore, I would eat it multiple times a week!

  2. It happens a lot for me, too. Mostly I get it when I'm dealing with my son, and I think back to my mother, suddenly realizing what she was up against!