I am participating in the A-Z April Challenge.
Today's letter is M:
Melancholy Memories of Sunday Morning Meatballs
My siblings and I went to church every sunday. Even though my parents did not go to Mass, they made sure we all went. As I write this, I just had a thought. It may have been the only bit of time that Romeo and Priscilla had to themselves. Hmmm.
Anyway, while we were at church, following the rituals of Sunday Mass, my mother would begin the Sunday morning ritual of making "the gravy," (or pasta sauce as others may call it. )
We attended St. Matthews church. It was one street over and down the block from where we lived. It was a short 10 minute walk.
Generally, every Sunday, we would receive Communion. At that time, one had to fast before receiving Communion. That meant that by the time Mass was over we were starving.
When we reached our street, we could smell the sweet aroma of garlic, onions, basil, and crushed Italian plum tomatoes from all the way down the block.
The back door of our house opened into the kitchen. The first thing we did when we got inside was grab a hunk of Italian bread and dunk it in the gravy.
mmm, mmm, mmm. I can smell it and taste it right now.
My mother would be at the stove, tending to the meatballs which were sizzling in a black cast iron frying pan, next to the big pot of gently bubbling gravy.
She had a strict order of things when making the gravy. The browned sausage and pork neck bone would go into the pot only after the tomatoes had come to a frothy boil, and then had finally calmed down to a simmer.
The meatballs would be the last to go into the pot, after the pork meats had cooked in the gravy for an hour.
I'm sure the recipe for the meatballs, that my mother used to make, was passed down from generation to generation. By the way, I use the word recipe very loosely here, because there were no exact ingredient measurements.
To learn how to make these meatballs, I had to watch my mother make them, just as I am sure she watched my grandmother make them.
Which is why, even though everyone in the family used the same ingredients:
ground beef, chopped garlic cloves, fresh chopped Italian parsley, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, eggs (the number of which varies according to the amount of meat) and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, no one's meatballs came out tasting exactly like another's.
Which is also why my brother, Ray preferred my Aunt Nancy's meatballs over my mother's and I liked my mother's meatballs better than my own. Jen says she would rather eat my meatballs instead of the ones she makes. Or actually Jen says the same thing to me that I said to my mother. "Why don't my meatballs come out like yours?"
One Sunday morning as we headed down the church block to go home, one of our friends came running up to us yelling, "Your house is on fire! Your house is on fire!"
We all started running. When we got to the top of our street we could smell it. It was not the comforting aroma of the familiar, but rather a rude, pungent, stifling odor of black smoke.
Thanks to the quick thinking of my father and the speed of the fire department, most of the destruction to the house was limited to smoke damage.
That particular Sunday was the most vivid memory I have of those Sunday morning rituals.
After the firetrucks left, my mother put on the pot of water for the macaroni and cleaned off the kitchen table. Then we sat down, as we always did, to our Sunday afternoon meal of macaroni and meatballs.
It was a couple of weeks, maybe even a month before we could move back into the house. My mother and father stayed during the clean-up. We were farmed out to family and neighbors. But, we always came home for our Sunday macaroni and meatballs.