I'm going to tell you about the weirdest day of my life.
As in most Italian families, my mother has a Sunday Sauce recipe that has been carefully curated and passed down among family members. And, like most Italians, I think my mom's family recipe is the best.
The sauce starts with the loud, comforting sizzle of meaty pork neck bones hitting the bottom of a heavy pot filled with hot oil and chopped garlic. Once the bones are browned, a few cans of crushed tomatoes, a can of tomato paste, and a few cans-worth of water are added. Stir, cover, and bring to a boil. Once it's at a strong boil, add a few pinches of dried oregano, a bay leaf, salt and pepper, and turn down the heat.
Then the magic happens, low and slow, for hours.
When done, remove from heat, and remove the bones, meat, and bay leaf, and store in the fridge until the next day. You can eat it day of, but trust me, it's better if you wait 24 hours.
In our house, the Sunday Sauce is rarely reserved for special occasions, but it's not served every week, either. It's instead reserved for those lazy days spent with family when you don't want to cook. Mom would make a huge batch and freeze most of it in family-sized portions for later.
It's been served to most of our friends. It was served to my dad's Polish parents when they first met my mom's family (so much garlic for those Polish tastebuds!). I include in the hand-made recipe book that I give as wedding gifts to my friends.
It's the stuff of legends.
As a kid, my grandmother would come over every Sunday for dinner. And one Sunday, we were actually eating Sunday Sauce. Naturally, the conversation lead to the origin story of our family sauce.
"I bet it's from your mom's mom's mom's family recipe and it was made from home-grown San Marzano tomatoes on your family's farm in Sicily," my dad suggested.
"OhOoooOOh," my brother and I replied in agreement.
"Yea, that sounds like it could be right," mom said between bites.
"You're talking about the family sauce recipe we're eating right now?," My grandma asks. "That's not a family recipe. I got it from my friend, Sylvia, who lives in Oklahoma. She got it from her neighbor who is Native American."
Here, all along, my family thought this recipe came from a family member who roamed the bucolic hills of Sicily. My parents are avid gardeners, so we assumed that, at the very least, her family was filled with tomato gardeners from Italy.
And that was the weirdest and most family-culture-altering day of my life. The day that a seemingly long-standing family tradition dwindled down to a single, non-family related moment.
In reality, though, I'd really like to shake the hand of this Native American woman who had an authentic and delicious-enough recipe that it made it from Oklahoma, to Chicago, to California, to Tucson, and now to where my brother and I live (Denver and NYC), with only minor changes made! Seriously, she's the best.
Who knows though? Maybe she got it from a Sicilian family and we've been authentic all along.
Brianna is the Founder & Editor-in-Chief at Hook & Blade Mag. She is based out of New York City where she enjoys exploring the city, trying new foods, and people watching. She works as an Email Marketing Manager at General Assembly, and tries to travel as much as she can.