Spaghetti Bolognese is one of our family favourites and it genuinely takes hardly any time at all to make. That is if you make it the easy way, which I do most of the time. Occasionally, I do the whole chopping of carrots, celery, onions and garlic, slow frying in olive oil before adding the tomato puree, tinned tomatoes, salt and oregano, allowing it to cool then putting it in the fridge to use as a base for all thing pasta. I then sit back, glowing in my domestic goddess prowess, feeling, if I’m honest, slightly smug. Occasionally.
Most of the time though, I am not that organised, and end up chopping an onion and garlic, slowly frying in olive oil, adding the mince, browning, then adding a tin of chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, oregano, salt and a couple of cheekie ingredients, that may make the professional cook squirm with horror. A splash of red wine vinegar, and a teaspoon of sugar.
Having admitted this culinary dirty secret, now may by the moment to share with you memories of a meal we had in Venice a few years ago.
Before that though, I feel I must add a context. As a child we were brought up by a mum who loved to try out new things, so when spaghetti bolognese was introduced onto the scene, she decided to make it part of her menu. We lived in a small place where these foreign foods were seen as something avant garde. Thankfully, her desire to experiment with the ‘new’ far outweighed her desire to follow the chosen culinary path. Aided, of course, by the then fresh face of Delia Smith. And to this end, spaghetti bolognese was presented on the television as a food to be eaten with both a spoon and fork, which is what we did.
Forward to our trip to Venice many years later. Whilst wandering around the beautiful alleys and bridges of a city which seems frozen in time, we came across what we imagined to be, a little gem of a cafe hidden away off the beaten track. In all honesty, it’s probably frequented by all and sundry, but to us, it was a perfect ‘found’ secret. As there was hardly anyone else in, we sat down and ordered. I chose spaghetti bolognese and began to eat it, instinctively, with a spoon and fork.
The restauranteur of this tiny cafe looked on with a mixture of disgust and ratification of belief, before smiling in a condescending manner, and getting on with his day. Initially, I was confused as to his reaction, then crestfallen to realise that I had confirmed all his preconceived suspicions. As British people, we had no culinary cultural understanding whatsoever.
And so it is with the spaghetti bolognese I make now. It may seem to others that I am making a complete culinary faux pas, but I promise you, it does taste delicious.
And by the way, I have upped my game and now only use a fork.