Tuesday, October 01, 2013

My childhood with Marcella

Once upon a time. When boyfriend was not quite boyfriend yet, just a boy who made my chest hurt, he was trying very hard to impress me.

We were swapping memories and I told him I was going to make him one of my favorite meals from childhood - pasta with bacon, peas and ricotta. He said it sounded gross. To which I replied, you sound gross. 

In an attempts to win my affection, boyfriend went to the store to purchase all the things I said I needed for this meal.

"Why did you get black-eyed peas?"
"For your thing. You said you needed peas."
"Yeah. I need peas. Actual peas."

In an attempt to look like I handled crisis and change well, I went ahead and made the dish with the (eventually very incorrectly cooked) black-eyed peas.

When we sat down to eat, I could barely hold back my emotions.

"This is kind of ruining my childhood."

He stoically ate all of it, leftovers included.

Eventually, I must have made the dish correctly for him, and he was not impressed. He said he couldn't really taste the difference between this and the other version. 

Once again emotions rose up in me and I tried very hard not to punch this still-not-boyfriend in the nose.

This dish, and many others that came from the pages of Marcella Hazan's kitchen were such huge parts of my childhood happiness, it was hard (still is hard) for me to understand how they don't evoke the same emotions in others.   

The food of Marcella Hazan is the food of my favorite memories. This dish of everyday-excuse-for-bacon joy, rice salad of Nantucket summer nights, pasta al forno (with homemade bolognese) for birthdays and welcome homes. Any and all of these things, eaten the next morning, a bonus dinner for breakfast treat.

Boyfriend managed to stick. So did these meals. Every one now cooked in my kitchen too. 

Thank you, Marcella, for a delicious life.

Other people wrote about her too: In the New York Times, and the New Yorker.

Pictured: my first ever made all-by-myself pot of Bolognese.

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She's pint-sized and amazing.