I am extremely fortunate that I was born in one country and grew up in another. Even if it was just our neighbors to the north (Canada), the culture is completely different from south Louisiana. Now having two kids of my own I try to make it back whenever I can, which for now has been every other year and we stay for an ENTIRE summer. And like most people do on any vacation I like, no LOVE, to eat!!!
Of course south Louisiana is known for the food. And I am grateful for my gumbo, rice and gravy, and crawfish. But I grew up in two very Italian families. And we eat. ALL. OF. THE. TIME. Certain foods just taste better to me when I’m in Canada. Sure you can buy Italian meats and cheeses almost anywhere. But trust me, getting it from the Italian markets that my grandparents and great-grandparents shopped at make the food that much better.
I have 4 must have foods when I’m “home”. Bakery pizza, Italian bakery bread, lunch meat, and Grandpa Stu’s sauce. Bakery pizza is just that, pizza that comes from a bakery. You can buy it by the slice or tray. And if you’re laying off the gluten or carbs just run away now. The crust is the best part. It’s super thick and doughy but in the best way, with not too much sauce and the perfect amount of cheese and pepperoni. It’s even better cold. I HATE cold pizza, but there’s nothing better than cold bakery pizza. And if you happen to be in Niagara Falls make sure you stop by Portage Bakery to grab a slice. Also while you’re there you MUST buy the bread. It’s a crusty Italian loaf with a soft, airy center. Now, depending on which side of the family you talk to you either go to Portage Bakery or Metro. Either way, you’re getting good bread.
Since you have your bread the next stop is Roman Cheese for your lunch meats and cheese. Basically buy all of the cold cuts. Mortadella, salami, and prosciutto (and if there’s a spicy option always go for that) then get some provolone and you have the perfect sandwich.
All of those are store bought. But my last must have is something that you will never find in a store. Just stop by my grandparents house on any Sunday and you’ll get your fill, plus more, of my Grandpa Stu’s sauce and meatballs. And be prepared to get bombarded with tons of family. Seriously. Our immediate family is no less than 30! But that’s what makes everything so special!
(Our family is so big we have to eat in shifts…this is the first shift)
So now I will try to recreate his recipe for you! Disclaimer: it will not taste like his. It never does! I have tried and tried, and my sauce is good, but it isn’t perfect. And same for the meatballs. Part of the reason is he doesn’t measure. ANYTHING! So I will try my best to estimate the measurements….
First we start with the sauce. We usually start it in the morning and cook it on low all day.
1 large onion chopped
1 clove garlic chopped
(Sauté lightly then add to sauce pot)
(Lightly brown then add to pot)
8 cans tomato purée
1 carton chicken stock
Fresh basil to taste
(Cook low and slow all day)
1lb ground pork
1lb ground veal
1 1/2-2 cups Romano cheese
Bread crumbs by texture. Usually about 2 cups but it has to sticks together but not stick to your hand.
Clove of garlic minced
Half bundle of parsley chopped fine
Mix all together and roll (don’t make them tiny, but not huge either)
Then we pan fry. Heat up some vegetable oil in a pan and put a few meatballs in at a time and turn them over every few minutes.
This recipes makes A LOT. So we usually completely cook half of the meatballs then brown the outside of the rest. The ones that aren’t fully cooked go in your sauce and finish cooking. The rest are for the vultures hanging in the kitchen that are hungry.
(My kiddos enjoying their dinner!)
When it’s almost time to eat boil some water and cook your favorite pasta. I prefer Penne, but to each his own.
And last but not least ENJOY!