Monday, October 24, 2011


Just for kicks, I looked up the word “spaghetti” in the dictionary today.  It’s defined by Webster’s as “pasta made in long, slender, solid strings; an Italian dish consisting largely of this, typically with a sauce.”  Simple enough, but, to me, spaghetti has a much richer meaning.

As I’ve mentioned, my dad didn’t play favorites.  Like a lot of the things he didn’t participate in, he just didn’t see the point of it.  One night when he was in the hospital, I asked him who his favorite nurse on the floor was.  I was just making conversation, trying to keep his mind off all the things that were not going our way.  He replied, in total seriousness, “I don’t have favorites!  It would just make someone feel bad if I did.”  Point taken. 

But there were a few things that were his favorites among others: 

Favorite sport:  running
Favorite number:  5
Favorite color:  blue
Favorite college football team:  Auburn
Favorite meal:  spaghetti and apple pie


Running and #5 - what a great day!
Dad loved spaghetti.  He didn’t care if it had thick noodles or thin and usually didn’t even notice if it had meat in the sauce or not.  He didn’t like cheese on it (he always said cheese makes people fat.), and of course he didn’t want any kind of fancy garnishes.  He’d eat a basic salad (with fat-free dressing), if one was offered, but he didn’t mind if it wasn’t.  He really just wanted the spaghetti.  A few times I made spaghetti sauce from scratch for him – but he didn’t notice the difference.  Every so often we’d serve meatballs with the spaghetti – and he’d eat one or two to be polite, but what he really savored was the noodles with the sauce.  He didn’t care if it was served hot or cold.  He didn’t like fancy sauces – no alfredo for him!  Just the jarred sauce over regular spaghetti noodles and he was completely thrilled with the meal.

Every year, on Father’s Day and on his birthday on Oct. 26, Dad wanted to eat spaghetti.  In fact, we had it about once a week when I was growing up, but we never got tired of it.  On special occasions, we would also have apple pie, his favorite dessert.  He would always say he just wanted a little piece of pie and then, an hour or so after he’d eaten the small sliver, he would come back for more, usually with just his fork.  We could tell he’d been back for more by the shark-bite edges of the pie left by his using his fork to dig into it when no one was looking.  Like the spaghetti, he didn’t care about any variations on the pie and didn’t even notice when it was homemade.  Hot or cold, store-bought or not, he loved it. 

Maybe Dad loved it because he grew up in a family that was on a very limited budget.  Maybe it was just something that tasted good to him.  Maybe it was related to the fact that spaghetti is easy to cook (especially the way he liked it) and he usually didn’t like people to go to any trouble for his sake.  Maybe it was just his perspective of what was good and of what he felt lucky to have.  In any case, my family (near and far) is going to have spaghetti – and, if possible, salad and apple pie – for supper on Oct. 26 every year in Dad’s honor.  You’re invited to join in, too … Dad would have loved it!

No comments:

Post a Comment