Monday, January 10, 2011

Getting back to what really matters

I am often struck by how many families, no matter how large or small, are not eating together. When I mean eating together, I mean truly sitting down, all televisions are off and everyone in the family is physically and mentally present. I understand that people are busy and that having outside activities are vastly important in the development of a person, both young and old, but the sacredness of meal time, especially dinner has dwindled throughout the world. I think in this modern day we are plagued with the immense pressure of success at all costs and family time has consequently diminished and therefore the family as a unity is under stress. It is important to be successful in your career but balance is a necessity. To help bring the family together I feel very strongly in the power of eating together. I know it is not possibly to eat every meal with all members of the family but there needs to be a return to the dinner table. A renaissance of the American eating habits, perhaps.

What brought me to this today was reminiscing about my time living abroad in Florence and thinking about their traditions (which I know and understand are changing just as they are here), the healthy way Italians look at food and its history. They revere their food and traditions as something to be savored. But times are changing there as well, with more families having two incomes there is less time to cook, less time to eat together. In 1986, Carlo Petrini, along with other patriots, wanted to stop the building of McDonalds near the base of the Spanish Steps in Rome. By 1989, a treaty was signed by delegates from 15 other countries, a manifesto created and the Slow Food Movement was born:

"We are enslaved by speed and have all succumbed to the same insidious virus: Fast Life, which disrupts our habits, pervades the privacy of our homes and forces us to eat Fast Foods...Our defense should begin at the table with Slow Food. Let us rediscover the flavors and savors of regional cooking and banish the degrading effects of Fast Food... In the name of productivity, Fast Life has changed our way of being and threatens our environment and our landscapes. So Slow Food is now the only truly progressive answer. That is what real culture is all about: developing taste rather than demeaning it." (Slow Food Movement Manifesto)
I think there needs to be a change in all of our lives to take time, slow down and to savor the moments with your family around the dinner table. Perhaps you don't excel at cooking, or do not find chopping a soothing activity at the end of a long day, but somehow there is a desperate need to return to proper ingredients, ethical food and a morality in eating. Take a pledge to slow down and to eat as a family, to prepare something that not only nourishes your families' body but also their entire well-being. Here is a simply delicious pasta that cooks in 15 minutes. I made this last night and it truly was spectacular. Enjoy!

Quick Spaghetti with Sausage
·         3-4 Italian Sausage links, casings on (I used spicy.  Please use one from the butcher or the butcher counter)
·         One pound of Spaghetti
·         4-5 Garlic cloves minced
·         Large handful of basil, hand shred the leaves, reserve the stems and finely chop
·         1, 28oz can of whole or pureed tomatoes, no salt
·         Freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Cheese
1.     Bring large pot of water to boil, when boiling add a large handful of salt. Add spaghetti and stir.
2.    Meanwhile heat a large non-stick skillet over medium/high heat with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Take one sausage link at a time and squeeze some of the meat out directly into the heated skillet (should look like small meatball). Continue method for all sausages. Stir and rotate to brown on all sides. This should take the same amount of time as the pasta, about 9 minutes. If not enough fat has rendered add 1-2 Tablespoons of butter to the pan.
3.    Heat another skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add minced garlic and basil stems. Saute for 2 minutes. Careful not to let the garlic burn. When nicely toasted add the tomatoes and stir. Add a nice pinch of salt and pepper and a pinch of sugar. Let combine.
4.    After about 9 minutes remove the spaghetti with a spider or tongs (the pasta should really be ALMOST done, a bite still in the noodle) place directly into the pan with the sausage. Stir and combine. If the pasta is too dry add a small ladle of the pasta water to the sausage pan.
5.    Add reserved hand shredded basil to the tomato sauce. Stir.
6.    When nicely combined, about 1 minute, ladle in some of the tomato sauce. Stir. Add another ladle and stir.  It should not be an overly tomato pasta dish. If you need more sauce just add a little more.
7.    Grate cheese on top and toss to combine
8.    Serve in desired dish and add one more grate of cheese

1 comment:

  1. Love this idea! My new year's resolution last year was to re-establish the family dinner and it's now one of the highlights of our day, a time to reconnect and, yes, to savor each other. What's more, my kids (3 and 5) love being involved (playing "restaurant"): planning the menu, setting a "formal" table, making placemats and namecards, and being involved in the cooking. My favorite part is lighting the candle to start the meal and going around the table, each saying "three good things" that happened that day -- though sometimes we mix it up: three things we're each thankful for, three things we like or admire about the person on our left, the funniest thing that happened that day, etc. That's just enough to get them started talking -- not that you would think from listening to their nonstop chatter during the day that they would need any help.... All this to say, we LOVE our family dinners and are excited for more healthy and yummy recipes to build these dinners around!