Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cook N Up Something I Probably Shouldn't Have Bought...

I love spaghetti. (*heavy sigh)

It is the food that brings me great comfort...the food that most reminds me of my childhood and Sunday dinners at my grandparent's home.

My mother tells me that my great grandfather, Alessandro Cesaro, used to make homemade sauce that would simmer for days- it was the best sauce she ever tasted. He would eat his spaghetti with a spoon and a fork. The spoon was used to wrap the long pasta around and around the fork. Alas! I do not remember him or his sauce because I was very young when he died.

My grandmother used to make spaghetti and meatballs every Sunday. We would come together with aunts, uncles and cousins and grab a plate of pasta and a few meatballs, sprinkle it with parmasean cheese. We would grab a slice of garlic bread, a scoop of sweet corn, and tear off a bit of lettuce from a wedge. A little Thousand Island and a Pepsi and we were a happy lot.

Spaghetti was the obvious choice because it is fairly quick- Grandma made hers from scratch, but she didn't do it the same laborious way her father did. She used Heinz tomato paste, as I recall. And her meatballs were always perfect-I really wish I knew her secret. Cost is another obvious reason for the Spaghetti dinners of long ago- whereas my Italian grandmother was all about bringing the family together with food, my Dutch grandfather was all about frugality.

Well, tonight, I think both my grandmother and grandfather would both be shaking thier heads in dismay. Not because I bought and served my husband spaghetti sauce out of a jar....but because I actually paid $9.99 for it.

Article 1: The $9.99 Jar of was 100% natural!

Grandpa would certainly wonder if there was gold laced tomatoes in the mix, and well, grandma would laugh it off with a twinkle in her eye. She would be much more forgiving, and probably pleased to see me taking such good care of my man (she would have really loved Simon and his English accent!)

I loved my grandma...I think everyone who knew her, loved her.

The $9.99 Spaghetti sauce was an impulse buy. I sometimes do extravagant things when I am in the pasta aisle at the grocery store. I am like a cat with catnip. I can't help myself.

My assessment:

Very tomatoey..and good roasted garlic flavor...but I really cannot justify the $9.99 here. I think I can make something as good, if not better.

Husband's response was "it okay", meaning: "It will do. I am hungry and it took you a long time to notice that I was just wasting away over here while waiting for you to stop facebooking and make me some dinner"..I don't think he has tastebuds either-he just likes to eat... but he would have liked my grandmas spaghetti dinners. I guarantee it!

Another important note...Grandma would never have let him wash the dishes...although she would have been very impressed that he does. "And he does dishes too?" I could hear her exclaim, followed by a playful attempt to get him to go sit down.

But grandma would agree with me that it is best that we just don't tell Simon what I paid for that sauce...he is a lot like my grandfather in that regard.

Grandpa and Grandma VanderHouwen, 1946


Chrissy said...

wow $10 for a jar.. my gf who is Italian told me she makes her sauce by using one small can of heinz tomato paste... add chopped garlic and that was it.. her mom would put her meatballs in it and let it simmer..
another piece of trivia: my daughter who spent time in Italy said that spaghetti and meatballs was considered a child's meal.. she said adults there don't touch it.. guess its the American version of what they perceive Italians eat?

Nancy Cook said...

Interesting. It could be regional too. I will have to ask my Italian friends about that. The heinz tomato paste was the only ingredient I recall. Definately cheaper to make with just that and garlic!

K-Falls Farmgirl Cheryl said...

Nancy, Your great Italian granfather also picked mushrooms along the Yakima River and after cleaning soaking those in water overnight,cut/slice them and add those to the Fabulous sauce. He could never remember the name for "cumin" so would call it "whatchama callit." He added it to his sauce once he brought the sauce to your Grandmas to finish cooking. He would also always measure out way too much pasta to cook allowing for leftovers but there was amazingly always just the right amount of sauce....and I am sure your Grandma would be happy to know you do love your pasta...

Chrissy said...

Nancy, could be regional.. My friend's family were from the southern part of Italy... btw u know those yellow dandelion weeds that are in huge abundance near the highways? Her Dad would stop and take them by the armful... threw them in their pasta...