Wxcerpted From SUNDAY SAUCE "When Italian-Americans Cook"
by Daniel Bellino-Zwicke
Of all the fine traditions of the Italian-American enclave in the United States, the Sunday afternoon ritual of making and eating a Sunday Sauce, is Italian-America’s most Time-Honored of all. Mamma, Grandma (Nonna) will make her celebrated “Sunday Sauce,” also known simply as “Gravy,” it is glorious. Sunday Sauce? What is it? Well, first off, Sunday Sauce, or as some call it, “Gravy” is without question thee number-1 undisputed “Supreme Dish” of Italian-American Cuisine and the Italian-American enclave. When it comes to food, it doesn’t get much better than Sunday Sauce. Ok, now, to be more specific for those who may not know about Sunday Sauce, there are a number of variations on the theme. Most Sunday Sauces are made with Italian Sausages, Braciole, and Meatballs. Some people make their versions with; Beef or Pork Neck, while others make their Gravy (Sunday Sauce) with just Sausage and Meatballs or Meatballs, Sausages, and Braciole, these later two being the most popular. Some may throw some Chicken Thighs or a Veal Shank into this mix. Sunday Sauces can be made with any combination of these aforementioned meats. The meats are slowly simmered for several hours in a “Sauce” made with tomatoes, minced onions, and garlic. I generally like to make my Sunday Sauce with Sausages, Meatballs, and Pork Ribs. Other times I’ll make it with Sausage, Meatballs, and Braciole. An old tradition in some families is that mother or Grandma would start the Sauce early on a Sunday morning, get it simmering away on top of the stove, then put it on a very low flame and let it slowly simmer for a couple hours more while everyone goes to Church. When you get back home, the Sauce would be ready, “ready to be devoured that is!”
Our family would usually start our great Sunday meal with the most traditional Italian-American-Antipasto of roast peppers, Salami, olives, Celery, and Provolone. After that, it’s on to the “Main Event” of Maccheroni and Sunday Sauce, a dish which is something so Blissfully and Pleasurably Sublime, that it is almost “Sinful,” yes it is.
When a meal centered around a Sunday Sauce is announced, one can have visions of Blissful Ecstasy at thoughts of eating Pasta laden with Italian Sausages, Savory Meatballs, Beef Braciola, and succulent Pork Ribs. All this has been slowly simmered to culinary perfection. Yes just the thoughts can enrapture one into a Delightful Frenzy of the Most Blissful Feelings of smelling, seeing, and consuming all the ingredients, the Sausages, Meatballs and Gravy. Yes a Sunday Sauce can and does have such effects on one’s mind, body- and-soul. And, I do not want to sound prejudice, but this is pure fact, it is the Male of the Italian-American species who Love The Sunday Sauce in all its form, far more than the female sex. True! Meatballs too! And Italian-American men and boys Love and hold oh-so-dear, their Meatballs, Sunday Sauce, Sausage & Peppers, and Meatball Parm Sandwiches.