Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sunday Sauce with a Side of Salty Tears

Early this morning I started the process of making Sunday Sauce.  Our family always referred to it as Sunday Sauce, though some call it Sunday Gravy, some don't call it anything and just open a jar of Ragu.  To each his own.  For me, the ritual of making a Sunday Sauce is pleasant and relaxing and carries sense memories from childhood, when my mother or grandmother would go through a very similar set of steps to create a rich, meat filled tomato sauce that would be served as an early Sunday dinner.

The magic combination for most Sunday Sauces and certainly for mine, is time, love and meat, meat, meat.  Any combination of beef and pork will enhance the flavor of the sauce.  I like to change the combination up from week to week, using any/all of the following meat options -hot sausage, sweet sausage, meatballs, braciole, pork ribs, pork chops, beef short ribs, the options are almost limitless.  The sauce simmers over a low flame for half a day and fills house with the most amazing smells.  Just the smell of sauteing onions and garlic in olive oil can lift my spirits to incredible heights...that is, most of the time.

This morning as I was chopping garlic and onions, I started to whistle while I chopped.  I always whistle while I cook as I tend to get lost in the busy work of chopping and stirring and sauteing.  This is usually an unconscious thing and I don't realize I am doing it until I catch myself, sometimes three or four songs in.  This morning I was about half way through a song as a wave of sadness came over me.  I realized that I was whistling "Come Back to Sorrento".  I then looked up at the calendar and realized that exactly one year ago, we were in Sorrento, and it was one of the most magical experiences of my life. Once I realized that, the tears came.

Ever since my first trip to Italy in 2010, I have become nostalgic about Italy in a way that is unlike anything I have ever experienced before.  The silliest things can make me cry (what I call) "Italy tears".  They come on like a freight train and over the smallest things.  For example:

  • See an Italian grandmother pulling her shopping cart up Arthur Ave in the Bronx?  Choke up. Hold back the Italy Tears.
  • Hear Italian being spoken in a bakery in Greenwich Village?  Stare like a creeper.  Try to listen. Mist up. Quietly wipe the Italy Tear that appears on my cheek.
  • Push my shopping cart through the Italian Grocery store and hear Volare? A river of Italy Tears.
  • Catch myself whistling Come Back to Sorrento? Heaving sobs and copious streams of Italy Tears.

I know some day the gravitational pull of Italy go away. Perhaps there is some magic number of trips that I will reach where I become bored of it.  How many is that?  20? 78? 350?  I'm not sure.  Sadly, trips to Italy do not grow on trees.  If they did, I would renounce my distaste for nature and do nothing but water and tend to the Trip to Italy tree. Until the next trip, I will try to keep myself from watching videos like the one below because, there just isn't enough Kleenex.

Damn.




7 Your comments, banter and witty repartee:

Lin said...

Hey, what was Meat Loaf doing in there??? That's an odd combo....

One of my dearest friends is in Italy as I type. Every day she posts the most lovely photos of their trip and I am enjoying it vicariously through FB. I can't believe the incredible scenery and the architecture. While I have never had the urge to travel to Italy, I do now after your post and her photos.

Don't cry.....you will ruin the sauce with tears, pally.

Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Lin - Thanks. I am not typically very sentimental (in case that doesn't come across in my writing), but missing Italy makes me cry. Sissy-pants, I know.

I thought the Pavarotti with a side of meatloaf was a touch of the cray-cray too, but he did justice to the English version of the song.

Grace said...

Ah, Luciano - May he rest in peace, back in heaven with the angels...I love many of the duets he sang with pop stars - he made them raise their game to levels no one knew they could achieve.

Sentimentality aside - we call it gravy (is it a Southern Italian thing?) and my parents put up the pot of gravy on Saturday night, after dinner. There were many surreptitious trips to the kitchen all Saturday night - you know - to dip some bread in the gravy. Sunday dinner was at 3pm...

Thanks for the trip down memory lane...

Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Grace - That's the best part. Dipping in a heel of Italian Bread, tasting the progress, adjusting the seasoning...ah yes.

Great question about region being part of that equation. My Italian grandparents were both from the south (Naples and Sicily), but the regional name may be associated with where lived in America and how they learned English. Were they from Philly, Brooklyn, Baltimore, Boston, etc? My grandpa came from the boat to Long Island when he was 16.

Grace said...

My grandparents were from Naples and Sicily too - maternal side lived in Manhattan, paternal side in the Bronx. I have a friend who is first generation, grew up in Brooklyn, parents are from Northern Italy and when I said 'gravy' he looked at me funny and asked why I would put 'gravy' on manicotti - he had never heard tomato sauce referred to in that way.

I recently had the misfortune of living in South Philly for a few years and 'gravy' was the norm in that neighborhood. I also have lived in Baltimore and Boston - never heard anyone but me use the word 'gravy' ...

Angel the Alien said...

I felt like that when I went to Hawaii (that's about as far away as I've ever gotten from the USA) and also every summer when I come back from our family vacation up at the lake. It is weird how you can get homesick for someplace where you only spent a week or so! But some places just feel magical.

Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

Angel - That's the truth. Before Italy, it was San Francisco for me.

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