Cathleen Ross asks that one important question for April Fool’s Day – have you ever been a fool for love?
When I was twenty I had a huge crush on an Italian Australian fellow at university. I knew he was interested in me, so I went all out to win him. I’m half Italian, so I told him what a great cook I was and invited him for dinner. Unfortunately, what I neglected to tell him was that my mother who was English, did all the cooking. I knew nothing.
In my ignorance I thought I’d whip up a pasta sauce before dinner. As my mince bubbled and boiled on the stove I added a can of tomato. I thought I’d wow this guy with my roast chicken too, the only thing I knew how to cook much to my flatmates’ disgust. Making a special effort, I rang mum and asked for her stuffing recipe. In my excitement and effort to impress this new man, I completely forgot to buy any vegetables.
When my fellow came to the door, my heart started beating overtime. He was gorgeous. A dark Italian with piercing black eyes and swarthy skin. I almost swooned on the doorstep.
After I invited him in, I gave him a drink and he sat at the kitchen table. My concoction looked ready, the mince having reduced to sauce quality. It smelled, well, it smelled like mince. I served it up with some pasta and sat to enjoy our dinner for two.
Unfortunately, the mince tasted like mince too, minus the salt and the herbs. It was disgusting. To my date’s credit he managed to eat it and not complain. Years later he still tells the story about how he ate my appalling meal and pretended he liked it.
I then served up the roast chicken loading heaps of it onto his plate in absence of any vegetables. While eating, he picked up a plastic package. In those days the gizzards came in a little plastic package, which I’d forgotten to remove.
I wasn’t surprised when my date invited me out for dessert. He was probably too scared to see what I had in store.
Six years and lots of cooking lessons from my date’s mother, he married me.
So, have you ever been a fool for love?
Cathleen Ross’s Pasta Sauce after 30 years of marriage.
- 250 grams of pork mince
- 250 grams of veal mince
- 2 bunches of coriander (cilantro )
- 6 onions
- I pod of tomato paste
- 5X250 ml tins of diced Italian tomatoes
- 4 gloves of garlic
- I large deep dish frypan (prefer cast iron style)
- Olive oil
- A pinch of nutmeg
- Half a teaspoon of cinnamon
Cut onions finely. Cut coriander finely, no stems. Crush the garlic. Add salt to the mince.
Order of cooking
Place onions in pan with good amount of olive oil, but not so much that they are drowning. Cook on high heat until they are browning. Add coriander at high heat then the cinnamon, and mix until the coriander is infused. Add mince and cook at high heat until the mince is cooked and the coriander and onions are mixed in. Make sure you do not burn the ingredients.
Add the diced tomatoes, garlic, and paste. Keep the heat high for the next 10 to 15 minutes, and keep moving the sauce off the bottom with a wooden spoon.
If it starts burning, take the pan off and use the spoon to scrape the pan so the sauce doesn’t burn. We want it to get sticky, not burned, so keep the heat high and don’t leave the sauce at this stage. Once the sauce starts to stick to the bottom of the pan, lower the heat.
Stir every 5 minutes from now on. If the sauce gets dry, add white wine. Let it simmer on medium heat with lid slightly off to allow moisture to evaporate.
The sauce should be ready in 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on how much water is added. I judge it ready when the taste is good enough to want another spoonful, and then I turn it off.
Cathleen Ross writes for Escape Publishing. Her next release is Ruby’s Fantasy.