GRAVY. Mmmm, Mmmm Good.

Gravy is my comfort food.  When I talk about gravy, I’m talking about the RED stuff you put on macaroni – not brown gravy.  If you’re a North Jersey Italian-American, GRAVY is where it’s at.

I was always taught that tomato sauce comes out of a can.  What you put into that tomato sauce makes it gravy.  I firmly believe this with all of my heart.  There was nothing better than a pot of my Grandma’s gravy (or my Mom’s) cooking on the stove on Saturday night and all morning Sunday.  We had our Sunday dinner at 1 pm in our house and the whole house smelled incredible.  Sunday was always macaroni day for my family.

On occasion I remember my mom making roast beef or some other dish on Sunday.  My dad and I were always very disappointed when we didn’t feast on Rotelli or Shells with a big piece of hot Italian sausage and a delicious meatball.  It was torture.

On Saturday night Mommy and Grandma would make the meatballs and brown all the meat in the oven.  My dad and I hung around the kitchen waiting for the meatballs to be ready.  We would grab a small Dixie cup and plop one of those bad boys atop and eat it like a hot ice cream cone.  When Grandma made the Brasciole I would steal the Pignoli nuts that she rolled inside and eat them by the handfuls.  My mother always had to hide the bottle.

Then the gravy-process started in that giant white, porcelain pot set on top of 2 grates so the gravy didn’t burn.  The browning of the garlic rocked as it wafted through the house and the neighborhood (if the windows were open).  Neither used onion or tomato paste (I do) so spices, herbs, crushed tomatoes, water, grated cheese, sugar and the magic ingredient “pepperoni” were all tossed in the pot, brought a strong simmer and cooked for an hour or so before adding all that yummy browned meat.

I watched like a ravenous dog waiting for a treat to drop on the floor as I stared at the CREATION.  Meatballs, hot sausage, sweet sausage, steak, pork bones (spareribs) and sometimes even a piece of veal were blended together to form, quite frankly, a mouth-watering masterpiece.  My mouth is watering now.  Fortunately I learned how to make a kick-ass gravy and meatballs to boot.  I actually went back to my great-grandmother’s recipe and made it my own.  When my husband tells me that I make the best meatballs and gravy that he’s ever eaten, it makes me glow with pride and happiness.

I miss the days when we spent every Sunday having a family dinner in the middle of the afternoon.  I miss that giant bowl of pasta and an equally giant plate of meat.  I miss the good Italian bread and the salad that we ate with or after our meal.  Those were the days.

It’s before everyone got too busy to make time for family.  Weekly quality time with a family who loved you and who you loved back.  The older I get, the more I long for those days as there are more and more of us in the earth than on it anymore.

Every time I smell my gravy cooking on the stove, it fills me with wonderful memories and actually transports me back in time.  I see it.  I hear it. I smell it and I taste it.
Gravy IS my comfort food.
GRAVY is my time machine.


© 2010 J. H-M. and CultureChoc2010.

5 responses to “GRAVY. Mmmm, Mmmm Good.

  1. Looks amazing.
    Took me a while watching The Sopranos to figure out that by “Gravy” they meant tomato sauce and not the brown concentrated meat juices which bear the same name if you’re brought up in the north of England… 🙂

    • Thanks. In NJ there is always an argument about GRAVY vs. Sauce. We are passionate about our gravy. LOL. PS: The Sopranos is pretty right on when it comes to North Jersey Italians.

  2. Yes, we too called it gravy…ahhh, the simmering, all day, dip your bread it delight. And we called it macaroni.

  3. June Champagne

    Sunday was very special when I was growing up; first we put on our very best clothes. My mother always work a hat to church and always wore a suit or dress and white gloves (she never, ever wore slacks). My mother dressed me also, little dress and white gloves, shoes and purse. We all went to mass, then to the bakery to buy the Italian Bread and some cinnamon buns for when we got home and of course some pastry. Once we got there the “gravey” was always simmering on the stove. You could smell it if the windows were open. I remember my grandmother coming from next door to check on it and make sure the house was’nt burning down!!!! The smell of the sausage and pork in that sauce was “to die for”. Before we could eat anything, we had to have a drink of water (because we had been to Holy Communion). I remember dipping the heel of the Italian Bread in the sauce, my father always brokes off each end and gave it to my my brother and I. We would sit at the kitchen table, each with a small plate, and dipping the bread in the gravey. Actually, that could be considered breakfast~~~!!!! We did eat the cinnamon buns and my mother always made eggs and bacon on Sunday morning after mass. It’s ironic, when I make my “gravey”, I can close my eyes and see how things were. Families don’t eat together an more. I remember that no one made any plans for Sunday between the hours of 9 AM and 3 PM. First to mass then to grandma’s or an aunt’s house or even if we just stayed home. You were at the table not matter what. I even remeber coming home from mass and I would stay dressed up all day. I think that comes from my dad, in his golden years at Pocasset Lodge and Scalabrini Villa, he was always dressed in a shirt, tie and his “good pants”! He would say, “this is the Lord’s day, you can’t have your work clothes on ~ he rested, now you rest”!!

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