Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Texas Spaghetti

For a common food, spaghetti is a hard word to spell. There's that h stuck in there for no effect, and the two t's, but not two g's. What makes Texas Spaghetti Texan is a tablespoonful of chili powder, a tablespoonful of paprika, and a teaspoon of cumin seed. The result is more like chili than spaghetti, except you pour it over noodles and it has no beans. It's spicy.
It was received well by a family that is as particular about spaghetti as they are about meatloaf. A family that in fact reveres spaghetti. My son had a dinner party for his 28th birthday, and his first choice of food was spaghetti. He switched it to lasagna, but the fact that he would ask for spaghetti when he could have had roast beef or steak, is telling.
When we went back to boarding school and college, my mother would ask what "the condemned man's last meal" would be. My condemned man's last meal was always standing rib roast, referred to in our family as "noble sight." We called it noble sight because in the 1942 edition of the Boston Cooking School Fanny Farmer Cookbook, next to the recipe for Yorkshire Pudding, were the words, "A standing rib toast is a noble sight." I never quite understood what the appeal of Yorkshire Pudding was. For one thing, it wasn't pudding.
My family has a code named dish too. It is called, Are you ready for this? The sordid secret of its tastiness. The name came from a food newsletter written by a guy in Boston named John Thorne. The ssoit, is a casserole made of sliced parboiled potatoes, sausages, and Cheese Whiz, or Cheese Wheez as we like to call it. IThe name comes from a newsletter written by a Boston food writer named John Thorne. Thorne had a wicked sense of humor. In one of his articles he wrote about the traditional women's magazine kind of dish, with some strange, secret ingrediant, like chewing gum or grape jelly. The title referred to mayonnaise.

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