November 09, 2012

Teach a man to fish


This is how it usually starts. Canned tomatoes, a bowl and a food mill (this one traveled from Italy inside of an overstuffed suitcase—nestled between cheese, coffee pots and grappa). Right here, next to the sink with a window full of light. On the table, counter or stove top, there is a pot in which the milled tomatoes will go. There will sit in a pool of extra virgin olive oil some garlic, shallot and crushed red pepper. A wooden spoon stands by for I've been instructed that metal should never touch the inside of a dutch oven.

Once the tomatoes are milled and I've scraped the bottom of the mill with a metal soup spoon and rinsed the mill clean I'll ignite the flame.

I'll sweat the bits in the pot for a song and then add in the milled tomatoes. Careful not to splatter. It is now that I'll increase the flame to medium and shut the pot with the lid, which is always heavier than I remember.

In the time it takes for me to turn my back and wipe down the counter the bubbles have started to blump-pa-lump. I'll lift the heavy lid and let the condensation roll back into the pot before giving it a quick stir. Then I'll lower the flame.

In goes the salt, parsley, and basil (if we're fortunate to have fresh basil).

Then I'll taste...and, I'll taste. It will reduce and sweeten. A ring of deep red will mark the pot.

I'll close the flame and set the pot at the back of the stove to cool. All the while trying to devise a way to get sauce in pot A into receptacle B without making a monumental mess.


I wonder if there is something that you make time and time again that sustains not only you, but the ones you love.



  1. Funny as it may sound, beans. Our favorites being Flageolet and Cannellini.

  2. Me too, beans, borlotti. blump-pa-lump.

  3. oatmeal, pat of butter, flick of salt, honey.


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