Love Me Some Spaghetti: “Good Taste” by Michelle Holland

by Michelle Holland

“This isn’t spaghetti,” my daughter says loudly to the waiter who is pouring the first taste of a fifty-dollar bottle of wine for our host.

And I have to agree. Take me back
to when I hadn’t discovered
sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil
and angel-hair pasta.
Hadn’t begun to refine my pork roast past,
or stay cool within my nodding circle
of low cholesterol friends.
I’ve learned the best restaurants,
sigh at the price of saffron,
accept only thin buttery lettuce.

Why should I shun the diner’s stout coffee
and mashed potatoes from a box,
and frequent instead the new coffee bar
with raspberry flavour and mocha and Java,
those little brittle Italian breads,
so refined?

My mom made sauce
red and sweet from cans of Contadina
and spread it out, ladled it out
on thick, straight spaghetti noodles.

Not one of us said, “Pasta.”

She made meatloaf and potatoes,
used garlic salt in plastic shakers,
served fluffy, white bread,
the kind that stuck in wads
to the roof of my mouth.

Big meals in big pots
served over the counter,
fat meatballs, mostly bread.
This was food, quick, filling,
not savored. Our due.

We held up our plates
for mom to fill once more
before we abandoned the table
for the urgent games of dusk,
hide and seek, and pick-up basketball
under the street light.

My daughter knows
the emperor has no clothes,
and for fifteen dollars an entree,
we should recognize the sauce.

The richness of our need,
the effortless nature of eating what could fill,
where is it?
I will listen to my daughter,
join her disdain for spaghetti
that is not spaghetti.
My life is a closed circle
traveling out,
the love of meatballs always on the periphery.

~ from Written With a Spoon: A Poet’s Cookbook, edited by Nancy Fay and Judith Rafaela (Sherman Asher Publishing, 1996)


You want some now, don’t you? Well, here you go. Help yourself!

via Betty Crocker


This poem got me thinking about how complicated eating has become. We didn’t have “pasta” growing up, just good old spaghetti. Remember when it was either white bread or brown bread, instead of whole grain, multigrain, seven grain, cracked wheat, honey wheat, German dark wheat, oatmeal, fifteen grain, with or without seeds?

Just like designer clothes, there’s designer food. Cool people only eat eggs laid by liberated chickens, drink water bottled in France, and swear by “non-GMO,” “organic,” “grass-fed,” “sustainable,” “100% natural.”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all on the side of healthy eating, being kind to the planet, and I know first hand about food allergies. I just wonder about people who go “gluten free” not from necessity, but fad. These days, it’s even hard to invite people over — everyone’s on some kind of “special diet”: lowfat, vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, no artificial colors or preservatives, paleo, low carb, low calorie, low (or no) sugar. Sigh.

How I yearn for simpler times! I don’t want to worry about whether what I’m eating is politically correct, nor do I want to pay a fortune for three teensy but artfully arranged slices of tenderloin on a sleek white plate in a fancy restaurant. I don’t want to fall into the “food as status symbol” trap.

Just give me comfort food, plain and simple, preferably prepared by my mother. Her spaghetti rates pretty high on my list. She never used a recipe for her sauce, and it came out a little different each time. But it always tasted so good. After all, the best spice for any dish is love.

Speaking of spaghetti, I do believe it’s the great equalizer. Whether you’re young or old, rich or poor, spaghetti always hits the spot and takes you right back. Just ask these folks:

Louis Armstrong tucks into a plate of spaghetti in Rome with his wife Lucille in 1949.

What’s the best spaghetti you’ve ever had? 🙂


The wonderful and talented Jone MacCulloch is hosting the Roundup at Check It Out. Noodle on over to view the complete menu of poetic goodness being served up in the blogosphere this week. Are you eating spaghetti this weekend? 🙂


“Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.” ~ Sophia Loren

Copyright © 2018 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

noodling around with carol weis

#3 in the Poetry Potluck Series, celebrating National Poetry Month 2011.

Chef Luigi is part of Carol’s “Poems Have Feelings, Too” school-touring program.

Buon Giorno!

Time to twirl our moustaches and greet Chef Luigi and “Cow-Lady” Carol Weis!

I first ran into Carol online at Miss Rumphius’s Monday Poetry Stretches. Imagine my delight when I discovered that besides being a mooover and shaker as an author and poet, Carol was also once a professional cook and pastry chef! Pass the tiramisu, I love you! ☺

Just for us, Carol is serving up a generous helping of everybody’s favorite, spaghetti. I think we’re all born with this love of long slippery noodles, and every time we twirl them around our forks, or enthusiastically slurp up a few toothsome strands, we get the happy flavor of childhood right along with spicy tomato and garlic. Is there any other food quite as much fun?

Carol: The inspiration for this poem came from my daughter’s (and many other kids) mispronunciation of the word spaghetti, along with my cousin Fred’s love of all food Italian. I’m also doing an 18 week poetry residency with 4th graders and right now we’re focusing on the ingredient of ‘sound.’ With repetition a portion of that element, I thought my 4th grade poets would appreciate my using this poem.

by Carol Weis 

Pasghetti Freddie luvs spaghetti,
Much more than his wee mouth can hold,
When Pasghetti Freddie eats spaghetti,
He never does what he is told. 

Pasghetti Freddie luvs spaghetti,
Much more than his choppers can chew,
When Pasghetti Freddie eats spaghetti,
The noodles slide down to his shoe. 

Pasghetti Freddie luvs spaghetti,
Much more than his throat can swallow,
When Pasghetti Freddie eats spaghetti,
His legs, we swear, must be hollow. 

Pasghetti Freddie luvs spaghetti,
Much more than his stomach can take,
When Pasghetti Freddie eats spaghetti,
His belly and knees always shake. 

Pasghetti Freddie luvs spaghetti,
Much more than most kids that he knows,
When Pasghetti Freddie eats spaghetti,
He grins from his hair to his toes.

© 2011 Carol Weis. All rights reserved.

Mangia, mangia!

This was one of the first things I learned to make when I was growing up. My mom was a great cook, but we were never wild about her tomato sauce, which was always a little too watery. I used tomato puree back then and added tomato paste to thicken it even more. But when I started working in professional kitchens and learned about plum tomatoes, and then started growing my own, a whole new world opened up to me. There is nothing like a sauce made with fresh tomatoes. The color is vibrant and flavor incredible. I also add carrots to sweeten it up, and sometimes a bit of sugar if the tomatoes are too acidic.  And I replace the paste with chopped tomatoes in puree. But the secret ingredient is fennel seed, used by my Aunt Minerva, who simmered her big kettle of tomato sauce for 5-6 hours on the stove. 

Carol’s Chunky Tomato Sauce: 


1/4 c olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

3 – 4 carrots, peeled and chopped

4 – 6 good-sized cloves of garlic, minced (we like garlic, use less if you don’t)

6 c fresh (peeled and chopped) or fresh-frozen Roma and/or beefy tomatoes

1 – 2 28 oz. can chopped tomatoes in puree

4 – 6 basil leaves, whole or chopped

1/2 bunch Italian parsley leaves, chopped

2 bay leaves

1 – 2 tbsp fennel seed, depending on your taste

salt and sugar to taste


Optional: use one or more ingredients for extra nutrition and flavor


1/2 bag baby spinach, chopped

6 -7 kale leaves, chopped

1/4 head cabbage, chopped

1 lb mushrooms, sliced

1)     Heat the olive oil in a large heavy saucepan or Dutch oven. Add carrots and sauté 2 -3 minutes. Add onions and stir until they wilt, or even better, start to caramelize. Add garlic and stir.

2)     Add fresh and/or fresh-frozen tomatoes and simmer about 15 – 20 minutes, breaking up the tomatoes with spoon before adding remaining tomatoes. Add herbs and optional vegetables. Simmer for 1-2 hours with lid on or slightly ajar. Season with salt and a few pinches of sugar if you like. Discard bay leaves before serving.

Serve over angel hair or your favorite pasta, sprinkled with parmesan cheese, along with a mixed green salad and some warm, crusty Ciabatta bread, slathered with garlic butter or dipped in garlic and rosemary infused olive oil.     

      Makes 3 – 4 quarts of tomato sauce. Enough for freezing and enjoying  later.

Carol Weis is an actor, teacher and children’s entertainer, who once ran a restaurant kitchen, a grade-school library, and a home-baking business, and now writes poetry, memoir, and children’s books.  Her writing has appeared online at Salon and Literary Mama, in various local publications, and has been read as commentary on public radio.  Her chapbook, DIVORCE PAPERS, was released in 2002 by Bull Thistle Press and led her to develop a school-touring program called ‘Poems Have Feelings, Too!’

Her first children’s book, WHEN THE COWS GOT LOOSE, was released by Simon & Schuster in 2006. Carol is a touring author, known affectionately as the Cow-lady, performing over 110 library, school and bookstore events since her book’s release. She is currently a Poet-in-Residence in a classroom filled with dazzling 4th grade poets. She recently completed a new picture book manuscript and her first novel-in-verse. Carol lives in western Massachusetts with her daughter, Maggie, with whom she’s written a mother/daughter memoir that contains a gathering of poems by both authors. When she’s not writing, touring, teaching or cooking, you can find Carol peddling down the rail-trail on her bike.

Carol’s favorite food is chocolate (especially truffles)! Also cool: she has four neon fish named, “John,” “Paul,” “George,” and “Ringo.” Look for Carol online at her official website and do check out her Cafe Press Shop, Cowabunga for Kids!for some udderly fun merchandise.

The Cow-Lady shows off some of her mooves at a summer library event.

Copyright © 2011 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan’s alphabet soup. All rights reserved.


noodling around

"No man is lonely eating spaghetti; it requires so much attention." ~ Christopher Morley


It’s simmering on the stove even as we speak.

The perfect spaghetti sauce. Perfect because no matter how I make it, it’ll be good. No fancy ingredients, no labor intensive preparation, never the same way twice. Ah, the suspense! Spaghetti loves everybody and everybody loves spaghetti. I bet your sauce is perfect, too.

Continue reading