Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A look back at family recipes

Since I've been working so much lately, I haven't had much time to cook (which then stresses me out even more...it's a whole cycle thing). So today I thought I'd share one of my favorite posts from my now-defunct original food blog, written back in 2008. I love that certain foods and recipes can hold so much meaning to families, so much so that they're carried on forever - and this is a classic example. Do you have family food traditions? I'd love to hear them!

The most important day of my life
There comes a day in the life of every young woman of Italian heritage...a day filled with equal parts dread, excitement, and chaos. A day on which the rest of her future depends. On this day, she is put to the ultimate test...and her true colors (hopefully red, white and green) are revealed. You know what I'm talking about.
Making "The Sauce."

Sunday, August 17, 2008: My first attempt at making The Sauce - the pasta sauce recipe that has been in my family for generations.

I received the recipe for Christmas last year, in a homemade recipe book filled with Nonni's recipes (Thanks to Nonni and Aunt Susan for putting it together!). This is the sauce that I grew up on, eating it at Nonni's and at my own house for the last 23 years, usually accompanied by homemade meat and cheese ravioli or pasta.

At this point, I'd like to take a moment of silence to honor those less fortunate than myself...you know, those who aren't Italian.

Nonni gave the recipe to my mother - a gasp non-Italian - when she married my dad, so he could continue eating it for the rest of his life. If I had to name the ONE food which best characterizes the Italian family, it would be The Sauce. Each family has their own version, their own history and tradition...but each one savors it, treasures it, and NEVER wastes it. To this day, I've never seen anyone leave a drop of The Sauce on his/her plate.
So, there I was, standing nervously over the recipe in the kitchen Sunday morning. The Sauce takes 2-3 hours, and I wanted to follow every single step as closely as possible, to maximize the probability that it would turn out just like Nonni's. I gathered my ingredients on the counter before me, surveyed each one carefully, re-read the recipe, and embarked on the culinary endeavor of my lifetime.

I started with the meatballs, then worked carefully through The Sauce. Even though it has very few ingredients, I took my time and worked methodically. Then, before I knew it, the recipe was complete. There was nothing left to do...but wait.

For obvious reasons, I cannot share the recipe with you here. I'm sure you understand (however, if you are male and between the ages of 22-28 and end up marrying me, you've got a chance).

I am blissfully happy to report that after frequently and nervously watching my simmering pot for 2.5 hours, a not-so-blind taste test revealed that, while lacking some of the love of Nonni's original, my first attempt at The Sauce was surprisingly...great!


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