The best thing in this world must be onions caramelized in bacon fat and splashed with Marsala. The second best is to hear an Italian say that your bolognese is one of the best they’ve ever had.
I have been envied by the Italian guinea pig, which is flattering when it’s because I make a better bolognese. I was a victim of hatred when he secretly tasted the sauce simmering on the stovetop. He admitted it was better than his, and as an Italian he was ashamed, embarrassed, and unpleasantly surprised. His misery made my day. The flush of emotions led to him challenging me to cook the pasta as well- now that I make such a good sauce. With all the meals and whatnots I had prepared, up until that lunch, I had never set foot in his territory. His pertinacity made my palms sweat; the stakes were high and so rose my blood pressure.
I had been so intimidated I even refrained from labeling my spaghetti sauce as a ragu or bolognese, and kept with merely “spaghetti sauce”, what I assumed would be a safer tag. I thought all was well when that had passed, but now I was to make the pasta, and for a zealous critic. I put on a pot of water to boil and I let my sauce continue to simmer on a different burner; time was what made it delicious. I had patiently browned a puree of carrots, onions, and garlic. Into some finely chopped onions past the stage of translucency and onto goldenness, I mashed the innards of sweet sausage to brown, then deglazed the pan with the last of a bottle of Marsala. Everything was engaged with a can of plum tomatoes in tomato juice, who I playfully poked and bursted, before they cooked out enough to be broken down and dissolved into the thick meat sauce. After bubbles chaotically surfaced, I put down the heat as low as it goes and left it to cook, for hours. Time fixes many things, including deep flavors.
Typically, Iranians treat pasta as they would rice. Which means, the pasta is drained, then put back in the now oil bottomed pot, and left to steam, lid on- an atrocious offense in Italian cuisine. The guinea pig once told me Italians tend to do the same, treating rice as they would pasta, leaving us to conclude that each of us should just stick to our own starchy staples. I needed to break the stereotype, and save Iranians of at least one of the many well-deserved embarrassments they’ve gained: overcooking pasta.
I did not breathe until I heard “Minchia”, one of the many Italian words reserved for penis, expressing surprise- in this case kind of like a pleasant “holy shit”.
Speaking of cock, call me cocky, but this Iranian girl can cook spaghetti.