I am constantly amazed at how animated and talkative people get when you mention food. The mere aroma of certain foods can evoke memories that transport us back to a special place and time. Food can bridge the gap between all ages, races and ethnicities.
Let's face it, the only thing that should ever come between people is a table and some serving bowls.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Sunday Gravy

My Great, Great Grandparents
Mama Rose and Poppy

When my great great grandparents came to America from their beloved Italy, they endured many prejudices as was the case with all people of different ethnic backgrounds and religions. They had to work very hard for very little pay. They swept floors, did other peoples laundry and ironing. Times were hard but never the less they loved this country and were willing to work hard and raise a family. Even though money was scarce the dinner table was rich with tradition and love. The love of food bridged many differences between people through the ages. I’ve always been amazed at how you can place a variety of foods from many different cultures on one table and it exudes love and togetherness. It’s too bad that placing many different cultures on one planet does not do the same.
Growing up I remember all the wonderful smells coming from the kitchen, especially on Sunday. What we all commonly called sauce would be simmering on the stove in the wee hours of the morning. The smell would drive us nuts along with the smell of the meatballs frying. It was only a matter of time before those wonderful aromas got the best of us. My great Aunt would get some fresh bread from the bakery and we would start breaking off pieces of the bread and dunking it in the pot of sauce. My grandmother would lovingly yell at us to stop dunking. She would make each of us a meatball sandwich to hopefully keep us out of the pot of sauce until dinner. Actually it really wasn’t sauce at all it was“Sunday Gravy”. This is what it is truly known as in Italy. The meat from the Sunday gravy which always consisted of;” Meatballs, pork ribs, Italian sausage and pork hocks”. Was always served on a separate platter. My grandmother told me that in Italy they really do not do Spaghetti and meatballs that is actually an American interpretation of the dish. In Italy the meatballs are more a main dish to be served with salad or potatoes.
Here is an old recipe that I dug up. Make extra and freeze it. Your house will smell like a little slice of heaven and fill your senses with love.

Italian Sunday Gravy

2 large cans of tomato puree
1 6oz. can of tomato paste
1 quart chicken or beef stock
2 cups of dry red wine
¼ cup olive oil
2 yellow onions peeled and minced
½ cup chopped parsley
6 garlic cloves, chopped
½ pound of fresh mushrooms, chopped
½ teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon of oregano, crushed
1 teaspoon dried basil or 3 times as much fresh basil
½ tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 pound pork neck bones (this is what truly adds that special flavor)

In a large pot, place tomato puree, tomato paste, chicken or beef stock and the wine. Heat a frying pan and add the olive oil. Sauté the onions and garlic until soft but not too brown (or else it will taste bitter) Add to the pot along with all the remaining ingredients. Bring to a light boil and then turn to simmer. Simmer for 2 hours partly covered, stirring often. Remove the bones and discard (or save as a snack for yourself)
Skim the fat from the top and discard, store in the refrigerator or freezer
Makes 3 quarts

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