As a card-carrying second-generation Italian-American raised ten years in an old neighborhood where everyone married everyone else (my dad married the girl across the street, my aunt married the guy who lived next door to my dad, etc.) and then raised in another town with a very large Italian population, it was a very big deal who you went to for your beef, pork, sausage--oh the sausage wars, and my dad's side of the family owned a chain of butcher stores, so woe to the neighbor who shopped anywhere else---canned crushed or whole tomatoes (Tuttoroso if you knew what was good for you) and God forbid if you EVER were seen in the supermarket with jarred sauce in your cart or at the cashier. You were a BAD ITALIAN.
didn't know what the inside of a McDonalds was until I was 10. I didn't
even know what Spaghetti-O's were until I was 15. My Irish best friend
would eat it everyday for lunch where we'd eat at her grandma's a block
away from school. I'd sit there with my pb&j which I guess is universal.
saving grace is that my mom was Polish. They never let her forget the
shame of not being born Italian, but she rebelled in her own ways and
with her mother's help, because her parents owned the house we lived in,
across the street from Italian Nonna. So yeah, Mom learned to shop
right, and cook Italian like an Italian but we got lots of Polish food
too and my Polish grandma could strike fear into the heart of grown men
(and did) so no one would stand up to her. Mom just was being a good
wife in those days.
is getting long so I'll wrap it up--I had my first can of Spaghetti-O's
when I moved into my first apartment at the ripe old age of 32, swear
to God. With meatballs. The first time I tasted those fake meatballs,
that fake sauce, those little rings of sketti, I thought for sure I was
going to hell AT 32! But...it was delicious, delicious hell.
I make my own sauce. I also buy Prego. Fuck anyone who doesn't like it.
Still, I use Tuttoroso tomatoes. Some habits are hard to break.
I keep six cans of Spaghetti-O's with meatballs in the back of a shelf
on my baker's rack/pantry. It's like candy to me. Comfort food to the
nth level. If you touch them, I'll break your effin' fingers.