Meatballs and tomato sauce.
I will always remember the first time my Aunt Heather made me tomato sauce. I was used to eating our family's traditional four-hour Sunday gravy. That sauce is delicious to be sure, thick, deep and unctuous, filled with meat, but it's easy to forget that it started out as tomatoes. Then one day, I was probably eight years old, we had dinner with Heather and her family and she made a fresh tomato sauce. I was a little skeptical. It had chunks of tomato. Chunks, I don't know . . . and it was spectacular. Fresh, bright, tomatoey--well.
(My Aunt Heather is just a marvelous cook. So are all my aunts, actually. And my mom. And my grandmother, before she lost her palate to age and the hypertension patient's terror of salt. So it runs in the family, and also I have a lot to live up to.)
Tonight, I tried to make something along the lines of that fresh sauce. I used canned whole tomatoes (San Marzano! From Target!) and stewed them with browned meatballs, white wine, a quartered onion, and some whole garlic cloves for about an hour. I removed the onion and garlic before serving. It was much like my memory of Heather's sauce, years ago. And the boys ate up every. single. meatball.