Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Mom's Meat Sauce
Oh, how the day had gotten away from me.
I woke up at like quarter to 8, with a long list of work-related things to do before I could hit the kitchen to cook for Margy. But then the distractions began to mount, and I found my afternoon spiraling out of control. Finally, Margy called to say she'd be home late. Since I had a rehearsal, I knew I'd miss her.
So much for eating with Margy. And I had no time to cook a proper dinner.
But again, and I know I keep saying this, that's what freezers are for. While I dealt with distraction #9, a poorly timed yet still very welcome call from the Mule, I defrosted a container of meat sauce, heated water for pasta, and made a salad.
This meat sauce is worth its weight in pork. (Who really needs gold?) I got the basic recipe from my mom, who'd been making it since way before I was born. My first few attempts confirmed my suspicion that I could never come close to replicating her magic. It was a tall order, because the sauce triggers some of my oldest and most enduring food memories. Anytime I want I can recall the house-filling aroma of simmering meat, tomato, and fennel seed, and I remember how the wait always seemed endless between smelling the sauce and finally being able to eat it. (The idea that "it tastes even better the next day" never seemed to help on day one.) I recall how when I was a kid the pot my mom used seemed as big as a bathtub.
But now I have my own bathtub, and filling it a couple times a year with sausages and meatballs and pork ribs and veal chops -- basically whatever looks good at the butcher's, though a few bones are essential -- has become one of my favorite cooking experiences.
Have I ever made it as well as my mother does? No way. But I promise to keep trying. After all, we have only one container left.