This post follows on from The Making of Spaghetti – Part 1 and the story picks up where I left it with my mother’s ‘magic ingredient’ being removed from the shelves and facing the dilemma of learning how to make spaghetti sauce without it.
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I had no idea what ingredients went into making a traditional bolognese sauce (that’s right, I am not Italian), and there was no internet to allow my fingers to do the walking and the working to assist me or provide me with answers.
It all came down to trial and error and one very long road to success. Each time I made my spaghetti sauce I’d add something else, something different, hoping – nay, praying – that Dean would say, “Oh, this one is good”.
Back then I thought it was a good sign if he said, “This one is too hot!”, or “This one is too cold!”, and living through my own warped version of a Goldilocks reality, I fought hard to get the blend of ingredients ‘just right’.
But I was determined to not give up and so I persevered with painstakingly perfecting my own recipe.
Sometimes I’d add too much chilli – our girls really complained that time. Other times I’d not add enough – both Dean and the girls complained about that and I felt like I couldn’t win. There were times when I was a little too heavy handed with the herbs and spices, and then there was that one time I forgot them altogether. I made Dean promise he’d never mention it ever again, and I won’t either, but I will say that spaghetti does not taste the same when you sprinkle it with dried herbs and spices after it’s cooked and served.
One time I added too many diced tomatoes and we ate something akin to minestrone loaded with mince. That was a sad day for spaghetti in our house.
But I also remember the time I added too much garlic and Dean and I almost gassed each other when we rolled over in bed. Garlic breath is not nice – no matter what the time of day is, but especially first thing in the morning. My eyes are watering just thinking about it.
Slowly though, over the years I began to formulate a recipe that worked, one that hit the mark more than it missed and eventually my recipe reached a stage where Dean and our girls agreed it was spot on and tailor-made just for us, and eventually I was able to cook it without referring to the words I’d written down. Those hastily scribbled and greatly edited list of ingredients and painstakingly precise instructions became a thing of the past and I started to take pride in my own recipe for spaghetti sauce. I would love to have shared it with my mother, but sadly she passed away before I reached this point.
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Spaghetti was our family staple – THE meal we ate once a week. Albeit I still cooked enough to feed an army and froze half the sauce each time I cooked it, the point is, we ate spaghetti once a week, I cooked this recipe, if not each week, then each second week, and have continued to do so for the last 30+ years.
Perfecting my spaghetti sauce recipe happened long before any dietary requirements in my household send me down the conveyor belt of producing special types of fuel for our little coeliac, our little vegetarian, and our little vegan. And despite all the variations I eventually produced that led me to write a very funny, award-winning humorous speech about my kitchen antics, I loved making spaghetti for dinner for all of us to enjoy, and still do.
I love the whole process of making the sauce and boiling the pasta and preparing garlic bread to have with it. There is something so enticing about the aromas that fill the house, the sprinkle of parmesan cheese and the glass of red to wash it all down.
Even though it isn’t, and never would be, an authentic Italian Bolognese, I like to believe it is a wonderful Aussie Spag Bol, a meal that comes from the heart that I love serving to my family and my friends, and I think of my mum every time it’s on the menu.
Having not worked from a written recipe for (countless) years now, I will have to work on getting it down on paper (again) before I can share it but share it I will. Just stay tuned for the recipe – I just need to test what I write down against what I actually do.