Monday, March 13, 2006

Tomato Sauce

Some folks say that life is like a box of chocolates, but I say life is like a batch of tomato sauce.

To begin with, while tomatoes are obviously the main ingredient in tomato sauce they are not the only ingredient. In fact, if tomatoes were the only ingredient in your sauce it would taste terrible. Believe me, a blop of hot tomato pulp on pasta does not bring generations of Italians home on Sundays for dinner, draw crowds to Italian restaurants or inspire the sweetest movie love scene ever (Lady and the Tramp, of course!)

In truth, even though the majority ingredient in sauce is tomatoes, it's the minority ingredients--parsley, basil, garlic, and maybe even some meat or peppers--that elevate hot tomato pulp to "sauce."

Furthermore, these minority ingredients need to be incorporated into the sauce from the beginning for the flavors to meld properly. Keeping them segregated in a bowl on the counter or adding them in later will not achieve the desired effect.

I learned to make sauce from my mother-in-law: First you put the olive oil in the pan and turn on the heat. Then comes the garlic.

Now the garlic needs some special treatment. To be successful garlic must be chopped, not minced (the food science guy on TV can tell you why!) then it gets put into the heated olive oil and sauteed. It must be cooked long enough to release its flavors, but not long enough for it to brown. If it gets brown throw it out, wash the pan and start again--even a smidgen of burned garlic will ruin the entire batch of sauce. Garlic is a little tricky, you might call it a special-needs spice. And the way you treat your garlic sets the tone for the quality of the entire dish.

Once the garlic is ready you add the rest of your ingredients, simmer for hours stirring occasionally. YUM!!!!! Serve over hot pasta.

Tomatoes give the dish its title, incorporating the "minority ingredients" from the start brings out the flavor, and the garlic--special needs and all--sets the tone. All of the ingredients are needed.

Isn't life just like that?

1 comment:

lmf2 said...

I love your sauce!
And I love your analogy