Tuesday, August 11, 2009

That Magic Food

Hello dear readers,

For my first post, I thought it would be best to start off with something fairly simple, yet something that I think is fairly indicative of someone's background and personality–that one particular food that is your true comfort food and has a whole host of memories surrounding it. For some, it can be something as simple as a bowl of Cheerios, or Thanksgiving pumpkin pie, fresh cherries, or perhaps something more exotic, from oysters to salmon skin role. For me, it is my mother's spaghetti sauce.

To me, this is not just any spaghetti sauce. Not only is it made complete from scratch--from whole tomatoes to the ground beef, onions, celery, and the bevy of other magic ingredients and spices that define it (beginning with garlic, a dash of Worcester sauce, basil, some soy sauce...) --the taste and essence of her particular sauce makes it so that I am hard pressed to ever order pasta with a red sauce, marinara, bolognese, or otherwise, in a restaurant simply because I am, at heart, not entirely satisfied with whatever ends up on my plate no matter how delicious it may be. A part of me knows I might be closing myself off to the wonders of other sauces and interpretations, but I guess when it comes to comfort foods, rational does not always apply.

This sauce is central to one of my favorite snapshot images of home: my petite, Chinese-American mother, diligently preparing such a defiantly Italian dish, our pugs milling about her feet, mad with the savory smell, and me, ravenous from swim practice if I'm still in high school, or ravenous from the memory her sauce after being away for many months. When it is ready, everyone in my family would line up, mess-hall style, plate at the ready, as the warm pasta is slopped on the plate and then covered with as much sauce as we can stomach. I still do this when I come home, and I always request she make it. The best side dish? Green peas. Bright green and slightly cool. The chilly pop they leave in my moth contrasts with the warmth and slight tang of the sauce in perfect compliment.

On the whole, family feels the same way about the Sauce, and we've even manged to snare a few outsiders into the mix. My sister's lacrosse teammate would come over at least once week for two years the minute she knew the sauce was fresh (or even just to mooch leftovers), and my boyfriend is now on board as well. She cooks many other wonderful dishes, and has taught me almost everything I know when it comes to cooking, yet this one will always remain her stand-out, in my stomach and soul.

What about you readers? What is your "magic food" that for one reason or another, can never quite be duplicated except in its "pure form?"


  1. I've never had your mom's sauce-- but I actually think of your mom sometimes when I eat peas! She gave me some once at your house once and I didn't realize you could defrost frozen peas so easily under running water. :)

  2. Yeah! It's the best and they are so much tastier that way. Keeps them from getting that sickly pale green and yellowish color, yuck.

    And I always remember you as more of a fan of her sticky rice :)

  3. I can't eat beef jerky without thinking of your house!

  4. Gosh, I love that photo of the Matterhorn! Fond memories of delicious fondue!