I’ve always hated spaghetti. Long unruly wet noodles that won’t stay on your fork–sliding off at the last second and falling everywhere while making you feel like an idiot as you close your mouth over nothing. Rolling the noodles around your fork–flipping tomato sauce off of the shorter ones as you wind the longer strands that ultimately fall off anyway. Slurping a single noodle rudely up into your mouth and down the back of your throat–gagging part way through the noodle and coughing it back up onto your plate. Watching your sibling thread the noodle through their nose and out their mouth–pulling it back and forth to show that it is connected.
And then there is the taste. Tomato sauce on bland skinny noodles. I don’t like tomatoes to begin with, so that is part of the problem. But even if I did, the noodles are too thin to actually hold any flavoring on them. So you end up eating the plain noodles and then the gross tomato sauce.
“But you do like ketchup,” my parents would always point out.
“Yes, I do”
“Well, It is basically the same thing.”
So if tomato sauce is basically ketchup then what are starchy noodles the same as? Bread? Tortillas? Why don’t we eat plain ketchup on bread or tortillas? Because that isn’t a meal. It is incomplete. When my mother would occasionally decide to add meatballs to this mess on a plate I didn’t mind it as much. I could eat the 3 rationed meat balls that I was given with some noodles. (A meatball on the end of my fork would at least help to keep the noodles from falling off). But once the meatballs were gone I wasn’t interested in the remaining afterbirth.
When I got married my wife rarely made traditional spaghetti. In fact, that is one of the reasons I married her. She had a recipe that she called spaghetti, but it actually incorporated cream of chicken soup (See Below). Which made it something all together different. And when she did make the traditional style she used a plethora of meatballs which I could then cut in half and make every bite have a purpose.
Going back to my childhood, there was one night, one family dinner, that has haunted me for the rest of my life. We were having spaghetti, and I was not happy. I sat there poking the red ooze while everyone else ate. My parents had a rule that you could not leave the dinner table until you had been excused. I had not been excused.
“You like ketchup.”
“It is pretty much the same thing.”
“Your brother is eating it. He loves it.”
The minutes ticked slowly as I felt my parents’ annoyance with me rising.
“May I be excused?”
“No, you are not going to waste all of that food.”
“Could we put it in the fridge for later?”
“Fine! Take your plate to the kitchen!”
Excitedly, I jumped out of my seat and grabbed my plate. I wanted to get out of that situation as quickly as possible before they changed their minds. I vaguely heard my mother saying something about wrapping my plate up as I ran/walked out of the dining area. To get into the kitchen I had to go around a sharp bend, but unfortunately the spaghetti on my plate didn’t follow my lead. Objects in motion tend to stay in motion, and this tomato sauce covered object continued in its trajectory path right off of my plate and onto the wall. It is because of this moment that I will never forget the art project I had done recently of a paper Frankenstein colored, cut out, and taped to a piece of butcher paper. It had won first prize for my age group. And it currently hung on the wall going into the kitchen. I still have that prized piece of art rolled up in a box somewhere–tomato sauce stains and all.
My parents, who had heard my reaction as the spaghetti splatted against the wall, came quickly. Not having been able to see what happened from the dinner table they arrived at the scene just in time to see the spaghetti sliding slowly down the wall. Already angry with me, they assumed I had thrown it there intentionally.
And to this day, they still believe that.
You know that embarrassing story that your parents love to tell everyone about you. This is that story for me. Every time we eat spaghetti with my parents they tell my kids, friends, relatives, neighbors, strangers, and anyone else within earshot about the time that I threw the spaghetti on the wall. And now, my parents don’t even have to be in town for the story to get told, because my children will happily put their own spin on it.
I still plead my innocence after all these years.
And I still dislike spaghetti.
Do you have a food that you have hated your whole life? Tell us in the comments below.
Sharee’s Alternative Spaghetti Recipe:
Start the pasta and the ground beef cooking separately.
Cook pasta according to directions on package.
Cook ground beef (stirring occasionally) in a frying pan until browned
Drain grease off of meat.
In a large pot or bowl add the meat, cooked noodles, 2 cans of cream of chicken soup, and 1 can of tomato soup.
Mix it all together.
If it seems dry you can add the second can of tomato soup.