• Chef Pete

A Lifetime of Memories and Bolognese

One of the things I can remember when I was growing up, in every Italian house there was a pot of sauce going. More importantly, the sauce was the personality and the core of the Italian household. It always brought calm to the soul when you walked in the house and smelled the sauce going.

Each province of Italy has its own version of their sauce— or in Italian, sugo. In Southern Italy, the sauce is made from the basics; fresh tomatoes, olive oil, a little garlic, a little onion. In Northern Italy, where Annette’s family is from, the sugo is not so much a red tomato, but rather a reddish brown gravy (as the Southern Italians call it). And the key— or the difference from the Northern version to the Southern version— are the porcini mushrooms and the water that is used for reconstituting them.

Many of you have ordered Nettie’s Ravioli from our menu at Pietro’s Trattoria. Well, I’m Nettie. It is a nickname derived from the Italian nickname my Nona— my grandmother— gave me, “Netta”.

Making the sauce has always been a family event. Some of my most wonderful memories are making sauce with my Nona; me chopping and Nona putting the elements together. Stirring the sauce so it did not burn, tasting the sauce to make sure there was enough salt or spice. Dipping french bread in the sauce for taste testing was always a must. After each sauce making session, jars came out and the sauce was frozen for future use.

When I went to college and came home on the weekends to visit, Nona sent home a “jar of sauce”. Countless times, my brother and I would call and ask Nona if she had any sauce we could have. The sauce and Nona were two things we could always count on. My brother and I were very close to our Nona. We miss her still.

We know that every time we make sauce Nona shows up. Even now, my granddaughter Isabella calls and wants to know if we have any of “Nona’s sauce” in the freezer. Last month she and I made it together and she was doing all the chopping. Today my daughter called for the sauce recipe; she and Isabella are making it while “sheltering in place”. It warms the heart to know the family sauce lives on...

Jim and I are so happy that both of our children have taken that part of our Italian heritage and carried it on. We look forward to reading the special way that Pete is sharing our family history and recipes with all of you.

Posted on this blog by Pete Murdaca on behalf of Annette Murdaca.

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