“No man is lonely eating spaghetti; it requires so much attention.”Christopher Morley
The observance of National Spaghetti Day calls for preparing and/or eating spaghetti. I chose to commemorate this day differently. My spouse and I do not eat conventional spaghetti as we have previously; opting for organic and more plant-based meals nowadays. We both remain carnivores, yet not the heavy eaters we once were. Even so, I remember the joys of eating my mother’s homemade spaghetti as a child and growing teenage boy in rural East Alabama.
My mother worked a blue-collar factory job in Barbour County, Alabama – investing 16 years of her employment years in a factory owned by Van Heusen. She cooked meals for my sister, dad, and me at the end of her workday. At times, my maternal grandmother pre-cooked meals for our family. After work, my mother would pick-up the pre-cooked dish and bring it home, adding a side dish to complete the meal. Expounding on this familial, meal-making, bartering system is a tale for another blog.
Spaghetti – one of my favorite childhood meals – was not pre-cooked by my grandmother. My mother made a sauce pan’s worth of spaghetti. To be sure, I am not referencing her grabbing the can opener, retrieving a container of Chef Boyardee and dumping the contents thereof into a waiting sauce pan. She considered Chef Boyardee an atrocity – foodstuffs packed into a can, laden with salt, and gag reflexive nastiness. I never ate the canned pasta, not even while visiting relatives or friends. When I first tried Chef Boyardee in college; it tasted of all the disdain my mother said it does.
My mother prepared her homemade spaghetti by 1) boiling the store-bought noodles, 2) browning the conventionally prepared ground beef, 3) draining both separately, 4) mixing the noodles and cooked ground beef in a sauce pan, 5) adding Ragú pasta sauce and other seasonings to taste. Sometimes, she would grate sharp cheddar cheese over my bowl of spaghetti – never parmesan. It was heaven in a bowl.
It has been roughly two decades since I ate my mother’s spaghetti. Fresh out of college, I began making my own by tweaking her style just a tad to match my evolved preferences. Making spaghetti hardly requires the genius of a world class chef. I shared this piece of my childhood after learning National Spaghetti Day is a thing to acknowledge. Eating my mother’s homemade spaghetti was one of the more joyous things I can readily recall from my childhood.