Stay for Dinner

If you ever found yourself at a the red brick house that my great grandmother owned on Long Island you wouldn’t leave there hungry, especially not on a Sunday. On Sunday the sauce went on the stove early, probably around 6 a.m. and when I arrived with my father, brother and sister around 11 a.m. the house was filled with something more than just the aroma of the sauce; it was filled with the feeling of comfort, of warmth and the knowledge that wherever we may have lived the other six days of the week this was our home for the day. This scene had been repeating itself since long before I was born, since the late 50’s when my great grandparents children began having kids oftheir own. By the time I was born Sunday dinner served about 25 people and it continued to grow until my great grandmother passed away when I was about 19 years old. In all those years people came and went, people passed away and new additions joined the family but no matter what, there was the sauce simmering on the stove on a Sunday to make sure that no one went home hungry.

After my great grandmother died there was no longer a central meeting place for us all and the family quickly splintered off into their own smaller groups, each left to develop their own traditions for Sunday. For my father this meant of course making the sauce, while he was making it for 5 or six people the years of watching his grandmother taught him well. By the time I woke up on Sunday morning the sauce was already simmering on the stove even though it would be hours before anyone sat down to eat. Generally there would be a movie on in the background in the a.m. something like Patton, JFK or anything starring John Wayne and while the movie played he stirred the sauce as it simmered and filled the house with that same feeling we grew up with. As the afternoon came there would usually be a game on, the Mets in the Spring and Summer or the Jets in the Fall and Winter and by late afternoon there would be dinner.

Today I live in Los Angeles, miles and miles from the places I grew up in but like my father before me I watched what happened on Sundays and from time to time I repeat the ritual. Today I put the sauce on early and throughout the day The Slackmistress, Daisy and I have been spending a lazy Sunday together while I let the sauce simmer on the stove getting up only to stir and sample my handiwork. I’m not sure how mine stacks up to mygreat grandmother’s or my father’s but I do my best. We’ve invited The Slackmistress’ younger brother to join us for dinner, I’m continuing the tradition of making sure no one goes hungry on a Sunday at last for today. Now if you’ll excuse me I need to put the water on for the pasta.

(the sauce in its early stages)


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