My great search for the perfect meatball begins. Since my Italian mother’s passing in 1994, I realized that my grief for the loss of her sauce (gravy) and those round mounds of moist meat laced with seasonings and bits of parsley on top of pasta is the sole reason for my inability to be completely happy.
I am sure I am the only man who kept a one serving container in the freezer of her sauce and a couple meatballs that were made a month before her death as a memento. I just couldn’t throw it out and I couldn’t eat it, and the years kept passing.
When I was a child, every Christmas, Thanksgiving, or family gathering began with three days of smelling her sauce being made. Then on the fourth day, her hands would mix ingredients into a large bowl of raw ground beef. I should have paid more attention. I should have learned to be the artist that she was, so I too could create replicas of those works of art to be enjoyed in the future.
I remember parsley, garlic salt, and not much more. I remember meatballs being laid out in a large baking pan and going into the oven. I remember her basting them frequently from juices in the pan. I was far too intoxicated by that smell of tomatoes being cooked down into a sauce to have any idea of what was taking place. It was my first understanding of “lust.” My mind was linked to my stomach and being the first one to pull a meatball out of the sauce. The coming happiness of gatherings of crazy family and crazy friends and the couple of days later that I, alone in the middle of the night would fry up the last of the spaghetti, (Yes fry,) and savor memories of every laugh, the love we had shared and wait for the next happy occasion.
We grow old. We lose those artist of love. Those gift givers. Those family members. Those who take their talent and share it with us mere mortals and our hunger. Then they leave us with empty plates but so many full and satisfying memories. We remember why they did it, but how did they do it? How do poets and writers write, and Italian Mother’s make their meatballs and sauce? We remember how they touched and fed us, but when they are gone, life still leaves a void.
Trying to replicate it, is never the same. It becomes just a souvenir of the past. But we can try. That is why I am starting this new adventure. EL BROOKMAN AND THE SEARCH FOR THE PERFECT MEATBALL TOUR 2014.
I know, the Italian women I meet are very, very proud of their meatballs. They all say they are the best. Even women who are not Italian are proud of achieving a culinary delight with their meatball recipe. But this is your chance to prove it. I already have a woman in New Jersey signed up to cook her meatballs and sauce. Just let me know by comment to this blog, my Facebook page…. (facebook.com/paul.brookman.792) by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) Or instant message and we will make arrangements for dinner or a group dinner party with your guests. Of course I will write about it and you will either be immortalized or insulted.
Some of you will say, but EL, what about men….can’t they make the perfect meatball? The answer is no, they cannot. Shut up, I’m trying to hook up with women with talent. So for men, who I won’t have dinner with, and the women who do not want to have dinner with me, please write in the comment section on my blog, Facebook, or email your recipes for the perfect meatball for honorable mention.
A friend was staying with me for a while in 2004. I came home from work and she had Spaghetti and meatballs for lunch. The container was in the sink and I was not going to show any reaction or say a word.
“Hope you didn’t mind, but you had a small frozen container in the fridge and I made my lunch. Did you make it? The sauce and meatballs were amazing!”
“No I did not. I’m glad you enjoyed it;” I said while looking at the container, wondering if I was going to have to take her to the hospital for a stomach pump.
So we beat on, plates against the current of sauce and the perfect meatball, borne back ceaselessly into the pasta.