Sophia Loren once said about herself, “All you see I owe to spaghetti.”
When I look back at my own teen years, I think the same can be said.
While I didn’t grow up in Italy, spaghetti was my go-to comfort food.
As a teen, my mother worked til after dinner hours and my step-dad worked nights.
So I, as the oldest daughter, helped by making dinner most week nights.
Guess what? My brothers and sisters got whatever I felt like making….and on most dark, rainy, Oregon winter nights, I wanted spaghetti.
Warm, comforting spaghetti with its bright, colorful sauce.
So yes, probably three or so nights a week, spaghetti was served.
Pasta sauce, marinara….It’s all spaghetti sauce. (I realize the above photo is linguine, but like I said, it’s all spaghetti to me.)
My mother never bought sauce from the store and as a young teen, all I knew was that she used tomato sauce and seasoned it up.
Keep in mind, in a large family with six children, we always had a few picky eaters.
So over the years, my mother added less and less to the sauce in order to keep everyone pleasant and fed.
I think at one point it was pretty much tomato sauce, garlic and parsley flakes. (Usually browned hamburger as well)
I remember clearly the day, at age twelve, that I decided to venture into the kitchen to try my hand at spaghetti.
It all began with a Prego commercial. Remember the one? From the 80’s?
“Does it have real onion and garlic?
It’s in there!
Basil and oregano?
Look, it’s in there!”
I looked around to ask my mom what we were having for dinner…and realized she wouldn’t be home for a few more hours.
I was hungry and darn if that commercial didn’t suck me right in!
Wishing my mother would buy spaghetti sauce in a jar like other mothers I knew, I began opening cupboards, looking for ingredients.
That’s what our kitchen had- ingredients. No easy snacks of any kind.
I was afraid to brown any hamburger meat by myself, so I decided on plain sauce and pasta.
Using my super powers of recall, I had memorized the four ingredients listed in the commercial.
Getting my base going by opening a huge can of tomato sauce and heating it in a pot, as well as my water boiling in another, I was ready to experiement.
Let me tell you, I can recall the strain of trying to keep TWO things cooking at once- pasta and sauce.
It was exhausting and I wondered how on earth mothers did this on a regular basis.
To the tomato sauce I added dehydrated diced onion, parsley and basil flakes, oregano powder and granulated garlic.
I was fairly liberal with all, and added a dash or two of salt and pepper to top it off.
It smelled wonderful!
Using a wooden spoon as per the commercial, I tasted the sauce with great anticipation…and was disappointed to find that it was rather strong in flavor.
Much stronger than my mother’s sauce, which I was used to.
Knowing I shouldn’t waste ingredients and my pasta ready and strained, I went ahead and ate my meal, leaving the extra on the stove for my family.
I went back to my busy afternoon of watching our two t.v. channels and a little later, the rest of the family came home.
They began commenting on the wonderful smell of food in the kitchen and asking me questions about my sauce, and did I in fact, make all of this by myself?
Tasting the sauce on said wooden spoon, they raved about the taste.
I was completely surprised and rather proud of myself.
I ‘fessed up, explaining about the commercial as my inspiration and my mother, looking at me; her eyes sparkling with surprise and admiration, laughed her wonderfully contagious laugh.
It’s a good memory.
I realize that pasta can be a bad word nowadays, when carbs have been practically vilified.
I can only say that my beloved comfort food has seen me through when I needed it, has grown some healthy babies and children and has woven its fragrant magic in my kitchen on many a winter’s day.
Spaghetti: It’s what’s (twice-a-month) for dinner.
For Homemade Spaghetti Sauce- Part Two, I’ll focus on making your own delicious sauce to freeze for winter nights!
PS If you’re lowering your carb-load, Dreamfield’s healthy carb spaghetti is wonderful!