Sunday, January 1, 2012

Reflections on Sunday Sauce

The traditional collards, black eyed peas and swine are taking a culinary back seat today. Since this new year kicks off on a Sunday, that means one thing around here: Sunday Sauce. Even with a miserable cold, I can breathe and get high on the lovely aroma that permeates our home as I peck away at the keyboard here. My Sicilian grandmother introduced me to this wonderful tradition when I was very young, then disappeared from the landscape of my life with her son, my estranged father. When my talented wife channeled her cooking skills into reviving the tradition last year, it sparked emotions that are coming into clear focus today as I consider the year ahead.

Sunday Sauce (at least my wife's) is richness born of simplicity. It doesn't try to be more than what it is because it doesn't need to. It's a cluster of very basic ingredients that, when pulled together, give you pause, leave you marveling over how something so spartan could punch you in the mouth and make you forget about the fact that you have to dive into another work week tomorrow. In a fast-lane lifestyle in a rat-race town, its slow and low composition is something to emulate. I know, considering spaghetti sauce a role model is as backwards as a soup sandwich, but stranger metaphors have been bought and sold. When I consider that Sunday Sauce is a virtual tractor beam that brings together my wonderful family and friends, I smile and look forward to the next round.

Most parents tend to scale back their social lives when kids enter the picture. Oddly enough, ours went pedal to metal in the wake of having kids. It has literally reached a point where we blush and put our heads in our hands upon viewing the Mint pie chart of our monthly expenditures, specifically the food/dining and entertainment categories. Fortunately we're hard working parents who can afford to pull this off, but the principal of this gluttony has been gnawing at me lately. Don't get me wrong - it has been a grand fucking run, as we've owned many nights for many years in this town, but when I watch my 4 year old son with a tomato goatee on his beaming face as he submerges another slice of crusty bread in sauce, I consider that none of my adventures (or misadventures) come close to trumping the spirit of this very basic and rustic moment. To put it another way, despite the title of this often neglected blog, it just might be time to grow up or at least act my age. Yes, it's time to go slow and low.

How exactly do I do that? Well, dinner is served, so I'll chew on it, wash it down with a red worthy of New Year's Day and wait for the second half of this epiphany to clobber me. Happy 2012 in the meantime!

@rcaggiano's Sunday Sauce:

Peel the cloves of an entire head of garlic. Slowly sautee garlic in cup of olive oil until golden brown (approx 15 mins). Add healthy pinch red pepper flakes and healthy pinch salt. Add 4 large cans whole peeled tomatoes (hand crush tomatoes as adding them). Simmer for at least 3 hours, preferably 5 hours. Meatballs, braciole, short ribs, et al an entirely separate topic.