February 22, 2017
We didn’t eat a lot of prepared foods growing up. In fact we almost never did. OK, there were a few times in the early 60’s where I got to try out those recently-invented “TV Dinners.”
I was well into adulthood before I had a real appreciation for the quality of the homemade food that was put on our table every day.
My mother made putting great food on the table seem effortless. I remember many Sunday mornings when I’d wake up to find her making ravioli from scratch for our big midday meal: cooking the beef and spinach filling, preparing the dough, rolling and filling the ravioli, all the while a big pot of tomato sauce bubbling away on the stove. It was just a family Sunday dinner!
Weekday meals were usually less elaborate but no less delicious; maybe homemade sausage, pan-fried potatoes, and a vegetable or two or maybe pasta with sauce leftover from Sunday. It was always fun to walk into the kitchen to find her making something I’d never had before; something that her mother used to make. Sometimes that wasn’t even at a defined meal time.
Now I think I understand. My mother died in 1993 and I bet I didn’t make her version of pasta e fagioli for 20 years after her death. Then one day, the desire for it just struck me and there I was, in the kitchen, cooking.
It’s become part of my regular routine again after that long hiatus. Sitting down to a bowl of my mother’s pasta e fagioli is comforting; almost as comforting as if she had made it for me. There’s just something about the combination of pasta, beans and red sauce that I can’t explain. It triggers an emotional bridge to what feels like an earlier time in my life. I’m guessing something similar prompted my mother to occasionally whip up dishes from her youth that she hadn’t made in decades, if ever.