Sometimes I wish I was Italian. Maybe it’s because I want to be Giada de Laurentiis when I grow up, or that I love wine and food, that the countryside seems breathtakingly beautiful, or that I think they’ve got the right idea of living and celebrating “la dolce vita.” Or maybe it’s because I haven’t yet found an Italian dish that I don’t love.
Pasta, garlic, tomatoes, olives … all right up my alley.
That’s why I was so excited for the cooking marathon this past weekend. A few weeks ago, my stepmother went to visit her Italian aunt in upstate New York and brought back an old-world Italian recipe for tomato sauce (“gravy”) with a variety of meats. She did a dry run-through last weekend, and my dad requested that she make tons of sauce to freeze for later. The idea was to prepare and cook all day so there would be leftovers … until my stepmother invited everyone she knew to dinner.
There are few things I love more than a dozen people in the house for a raucous dinner party — that’s what food’s all about, right? Sharing, enjoying and family. Well, my dad was less than amused.
We commenced at about 4 pm browning the sausage and starting the sauce, which cooks for an hour and a half before you add more meat — pepperoni, meatballs and rolled, stuffed pork. Then it simmers for several hours more.
Dad came in to inspect the progress and learned 8 guests were on their way to eat from all parts of the state. He pitched a fit about all these people eating “his food,” so I had to run to the grocery while he sulked in his man cave.
Batch number 2 set us back a bit, but we finally sat down to dinner about 8:30 pm. It was an Italian feast — plenty of garlic, bread, wine, pasta, meats, sauce. Delicious.
I’ve decided that I want everyone’s grandmother’s recipe, since when you cook something all day you can taste the love and care in it. And, I’m afraid we’re losing those recipes — my generation just doesn’t cook or eat like that anymore. We’re more likely to throw down a granola bar on the run or scarf a frozen pizza at our desk during lunch “hour.” I read the other day a prediction that our grandchildren might not even know what cooking is, since they can just pick up at the store a meal that some corporation cooked for them. How sad, since we’re potentially giving over our very heritage that way. I’ll aim to keep it alive, I promise.
So, if you’ve got any of your grandmother’s recipes I can add to my arsenal, send ’em over.