Pasta Bolognese Style
Throughout its history, Philadelphia has always been a place of neighborhoods, those most frequently identified by nationalities.
Early immigrants from individual countries arrived, Irish, Germans, Welsh, Polish, and on, then together settled into sections of the many row homes that line along the city streets.
It’s even so today as new immigrants arrive, Koreans, Vietnamese, Cambodian and more.
When I was growing up, South Philadelphia, the location of the famous ‘Rocky’ movie was always the Italian section.
The Italian section hosts what now has become more commonly referred to as the 9th street market, but when I was growing up it was always called the ‘Italian Market.’ The Italian Market located on 9th Street.
In between the corners of Italian restaurants that dotted the streets were the homes of the Italian families, many who had second kitchens in the basements of their homes to keep the main kitchen clean.
The top kitchen was the serving area for the family meal where after Sunday mass at the local parish church the Sunday dinner of multiple courses commenced.
One distinct flavor of the Sunday dinner included, of course, tomato sauce, which was almost always referred to in the Italian section as ‘Gravy’
The red sauce lovingly prepared by the mother of the home was raved about by all family members in any self-respecting family, and her Tomato Gravy was always deemed to be the absolute best.
You could even feel a bit of emotional tension between children whenever referring to their own mothers Tomato Gravy. Families might be subtly criticized for their gravy being too sweet, or too tart. And everyone solemnly swore that they would never, ever, ever, under the purge of death eat anyone else’s Tomato Gravy except that of their own mothers.
This must-have meant one exclusion, that being, eating out at any of the local Italian restaurants.
I can’t imagine anyone saying, give me anything on the menu BoBo, all except that which has any tomato gravy, for in those days everything was swimming in it.
I had two favorites at the Italian section restaurants in the city, Lasagna and Pasta Bolognese.
Pasta Bolognese Style was not merely tomato gravy, nor was it your everyday tomato gravy in meat sauce.
Pasta Bolognese Style was an elaborately composed tomato sauce with distinctive flavors all melodiously coming together between vegetables, mushrooms, and meat, and to me, it was heavenly.
Some years later, upon ordering Pasta Bolognese as an adult I became aware of some others among those distinctive ingredient flavors in the mix, the depth of dried porcini mushrooms, and fresh and dried herbs.
Today, Pasta Bolognese is one of my absolute most favorite dishes to prepare, tending to each ingredient addition with the distinctive flavors melodiously coming together, well, sort of like an Italian mother living in the Italian neighborhood section of the city preparing Sunday dinner. And that my friends, is what they call Amore.