I have not always been a foodie. Quite the contrary, in my tender years I was a very picky eater. I would only eat cold cereal for breakfast, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch and, potatoes of any kind, peas and fried hamburgers for dinner.
Anything else placed on my plate and I would move the food around my plate, eat a little bit to make my mom happy and sometimes hold it in my mouth and then excuse myself from the table and spit it out in the toilet.
I was not an easy child to deal with when it came to food. This was especially hard on my mom as we were very poor and food was not always easy to come by. There were times when she would rifle through her purse, coat pockets and sometimes lift the linoleum up off the floor, just a little to see if any coins had rolled under. She would give me the coins and I would run to the store and buy a large can of pork and beans and that would be our meal for the evening.
One evening my mom went to the pantry to prepare dinner and all that was on the shelf was a box of Ronzoni thin spaghetti and cans of Del Monte tomato sauce. She came into the kitchen, looked at the expectant faces at the kitchen table and said, “We are going to have a treat this evening, spaghetti with red sauce”.
I loved it. The combination of this perfectly cooked spaghetti and the sweet tomato sauce was so good I cleaned my plate. I knew not to ask for more because even at that young age I knew that seconds were not an option.
I cannot explain why that simple meal became one of my all-time favorites but it did. Was it the fact that my mom called it a ‘treat’? I really don’t know but to this day whenever I am feeling ill or feeling low, I find myself searching the pantry for these two wonderful ingredients and prepare a bowl of spaghetti with red sauce. I will curl up on the couch, put on one of my favorite shows, eat my spaghetti and in no time I feel better. For me it was and has always been, a wonderful comfort food.
Over time I added a little bit of cheese to my favorite dish; sometimes Velveeta cheese, sometimes American cheese.
I tried to introduce this simple food to my husband and family with mixed reviews. My husband did not like my wonderful dish however, the girls did. So, whenever he was away on business, which he was most of the time in the early days, the girls and I would enjoy this simple concoction and eventually my ‘spaghetti with red sauce’ came to be known as ‘out-of-town-spaghetti’.
Of course, as the years rolled by my tastes became more sophisticated and I learned to cook many wonderful Italian sauces that include many delicious ingredients that I would never have eaten as a child. But none of those dishes can compare to my simple ‘spaghetti with red sauce’ to cure whatever ails me.
Foodie or not I return to this meal for many reasons, memories of my mom and how she could make such a simple meal seem so special, perhaps remembering the hard times we all shared and overcame and, a reminder that simple things usually are the best.
Writing 101: Day Ten-Happy