Monday, April 02, 2007

the fruits of our labor

the fruits of our labor
Originally uploaded by vivi en france.
It was getting on 4:00pm Saturday and Steph was very busy killing giant trolls or dragons or some such with his guild in DAoC and I was tapping my feet. Making sauce takes about four hours from start to finish, and while I take care of the three hours of stirring the pot every fifteen minutes, we always do the prep work together. Finally, Steph said he'd rather do the sauce the next day, as he was having too much fun bashing in the heads of elves or whatever to make sauce. Eh, what the heck, it's his birthday after all. Luckily, marriage has mellowed me - it wasn't that long ago that I would have freaked out at the thought of changing our plan, for The Plan shall not be changed!

[Full disclosure: I have been known to accompany Steph on his quests to kill mythical creatures, lest you think I look down my nose at these things.]

So Sunday we set to work and had a delicious spaghetti dinner last night. I must say that this is the best sauce we've made yet. It's funny when you think about it, how recipes can change from generation to generation. My sauce tastes completely different from my granmother's sauce, which is as far back in the lineage as my experience goes. She isn't Italian but learned to cook Italian from my grandfather, who was a first-generation American, who learned how to make this sauce from his mother, who was born in Italy. So my grandmother's sauce has a totally different taste - she adds a bit of sugar to cut the acid of the tomatoes and her sauce tends to run clear. My parents tinkered with this recipe their whole married life. I remember various incarnations of it, some of which were thinner sauces like Grandma's and others were as thick as mine. Sometimes he added so much pork and sausage that we'd have to skim the surface of the sauce while it was still cooking.

Of course, from necessity, my sauce is a little different from Dad's, but only because I have to substitute a few things. It still tastes close enough to Dad's recipe that I can close my eyes and imagine myself in all stages of childhood, the fragrance of sauce permeating every home in which we lived, asking Dad if I could stir the sauce next time so I could have a taste, and practically starving ourselves all day so we would be ready for the feast at dinnertime, consisting of bowls of salad with Italian dressing, plates piled with spaghetti and meatballs with parmesan cheese and Italian bread with garlic butter fresh from the oven.

I know now that every time I make this sauce I will automatically think of my parents. It may seem like a strange touchstone, but I will treasure those memories every time I gather these ingredients in preparation. I look forward to sharing this recipe with my children and one day seeing what changes they make to it, from one generation to the next.

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