Do you associate people with particular scents? Everytime I smell Shalimar perfume I immediately think of my aunt. I turn to look sometimes to see if she is there. Right now my house smells like my grandma. I associate tomato sauce with my grandma. Sauteing onions, garlic, basil, oregano, tomatoes. It is such an intoxicating smell. I close my eyes and I feel love. When you smell tomato sauce cooking all day and it hugs you the moment you walk into a house, you know there are good things to come, comforting things. It doesn’t matter what form the tomato sauce takes, because it is going to be delicious.
I have been playing around with my tomato sauce. I have carmelized the onions, baked it in the oven, cooked it with and without meat, added carrots, tried vodka and cream. They have all been delicious. Homemade tomato sauce is the only one my son likes, otherwise he wants pasta with just butter. Which leads me to my second thought of the day….
When I got married my husband had a habit of comparing my food to his mother’s. Now I am not knocking my mother-in-law. She just doesn’t like to cook so what she does cook is standard. I compare that to my grandma which I considered signature. I am not a gourmet chef, bt I think I make some darn good home-made meals, so when my new husband would then say things like; “my mother uses Ritz crackers in her meatballs” or ” it’s good but my mother doesn’t put nuts in her coffee cake” it drove me nuts. I secretly desire for my two sons to then tell their wives “my mother’s _______ is the best” and “my mother makes the best _________”. I don’t desire this to make for a difficult marriage to my sons, but rather a bonding time to cook together and pass down my signature recipes. Which makes me wonder, since I cook a lot of Italian food, will be strange to be “Italian” grandma with a german name….?
Last thought for today. Since I am fondly thinking of my grandma now and all the food I associate with her I am keen to call and ask her a favor. A while ago I asked her to write down her recipes. I wanted them in her handwriting and I wanted as many as she could remember from growing up and from cooking for my Dad. I have a terrible fear that foods will be lost. Cooking is like oral tradition. If it is not passed down or recorded it is lost, and foods and cooking can bring back such wonderful memories. Just smelling tomato sauce cooking brings me right back to a noisy family kitchen, soft Italian bread, parmesan cheese, lace table cloths……ummmmm