A few years ago I made Bolognese sauce from scratch. I’ve always loved Bolognese anything. Pizza, crisps, pasta, you name it. Bolognese sells, or at least to me. Anyway, I loved it a lot, but I didn’t particularly care for the standard package type of sauce. It was either too fat (really… disgusting!), or it was too salty, or it was just too whatever. It wasn’t just right. So I Googled a recipe and I found it. I found many different recipes of Bolognese sauce. The quantities that went in there were stellar. Really, even I thought at one point, that the whole country would have to come get a share, and I still would have plenty left. After a long cooking time it was finally finished and I served it with some pasta to myself and a few friends. It’s been a while and the memory of what it exactly tasted like is a bit faded, but I do remember that from the first bite I knew this was the most amazing and perfect Bolognese sauce I had ever tasted. I had enough for an army, but we ended up nearly finishing the stuff. It was damn good! It was elegant, it was subtle, it wasn’t too salty, it wasn’t too fat, it wasn’t too whatever. It was just perfect. My taste buds went to heaven and I had to go there to fetch them, because my goodness, I had some more of that divine stuff to eat!
After this immense success I knew I had to do it again. I had to make Bolognese sauce. I had to share its divinity with the world. No one except the few friends that actually tasted it would believe me if I didn’t. After a few months I ended up deciding this was the right time for a second try. I Googled for a recipe and I found something. It was easy, I recognised the websites, so I was sure this was all said and done. I remembered that I had somehow combined a few recipes to get the gist of Bolognese sauce, and since that had resulted in the most perfect Bolognese sauce ever, I went for it again. The only thing I did wrong was moderation. When I’m super enthusiastic about something, I get carried away. And with the memory of the most perfect Bolognese sauce still lingering on my lips, I got carried away. I got carried far and away. I ended up in the Himalayas. Which, mind you, is long and far from Bologna. So there I was, on the top of Mt. Everest and I had no idea.
It went a little something like this: I had an equally big pan to make this most amazing sauce. I threw in about every ingredient that I remembered. But I did something else too. I threw in every other ingredient that I didn’t particularly remember but that I felt would make the sauce even more perfect than it could ever be. It’s a trivial mistake and I make it almost all the time when I’m superbly enthused and carried away. And I was on Mt. Everest, remember? So I was enjoying the Himalayas, while the sauce that I should have been paying attention to, was getting too whatever. It wasn’t too salty, it wasn’t too fat, but it was too whatever. It had too much going on. My taste buds had no idea what was happening to them, and my brain kept thrusting the memory of the most perfect Bolognese sauce ever on them. But all my taste buds could give in reply was: it’s nothing like it! And it wasn’t. It wasn’t gross, but it wasn’t perfect, it was OK. And that was not what I had set out to do. I didn’t cry, because I rarely do that, but I was very disappointed and I asked myself: what did I do differently? The truth is, I didn’t know. I didn’t exactly remember what I’d done the first time around. I hadn’t written it down. I hadn’t blogged about it, or if I had I’d just stated that I’d made the most perfect Bolognese sauce ever, without giving away any details. I ended up sort of vowing never to make my own pasta sauce again. Simply because I could never reproduce that one perfect, spot on, first try.
Until today, that is. Recently I’ve tried some sauces from various manufacturers and I hated them. Because I’ve been getting to the hate point gradually over time, and I’ve finally arrived. I do ‘hate’. I hate these instant pasta sauces they sell you. They’re usually not too fat, but they’re too salty, they contain too many chemicals, too little vegetables, and they’re generally shitty. A few months ago I bought a jar of pasta sauce at the closest supermarket I know, and there was barely anything in there. The tomato sauce wasn’t made of tomatoes. It was some slimy kind of red blob with a few bits in it. It was goo-ey. It was disgusting. If it had tasted OK, I think I would’ve been more forgiving. But it tasted even worse than it looked. It was terrible. And while I was munching on my good pasta with terrible goo all over it, I decided I’d had enough. OK, so I blew the old fantastic Bologna sauce to smithereens, that could happen, right? It was only my second time and all. Not that I was going to try again. All I was going to do was not have the yuck-stuff and do something better all by myself. Because that shouldn’t be too hard, I figured.
So I bought a bottle of tomato-pulp. It’s organic, so it’s in a bottle. I don’t buy it because it’s organic, I’m not an organic food freak. Even though ‘orange pumpking’ almost is an anagram of ‘organic pumpkin’, almost, because I don’t get more than ‘organ pumpkin’, and that sounds a bit bizarre. I buy the tomato pulp because it is good stuff. It’s just tomatoes, nothing else. No sweetener, no condensing, no extra water, no nothing. Just tomatoes. Ok, so maybe they’ve added a few chemicals to keep it edible for a while. I used it on my pizza’s, when I had a pizza frenzy. I will probably blog about that some more later. I figured that having this lovely tomato pulp over my pasta and nothing else would surely be better than the chemically enhanced shite from the jars. And it was. It wasn’t perfect. It was only OK, but it wasn’t like eating a science project. It was like eating tomato pulp and pasta. I’d added salt and a few herbs and I liked it. It needed improvement and while I was eating I pondered over what ingredients I could add safely without harming my taste buds. I decided I could add onions and garlic. It’s in my kitchen already, so I decided I would a next time.
And I did. I even threw in two carrots for good measure. All I can say is that I’m on the mend. One day I will attempt the perfect Bolognese sauce again. And it will be better than my second attempt at it. It will have improved. Because I have learnt a lesson: moderation. Keep it simple. Don’t overdo it. Keep it honest. Throw in this or that, but not this AND that. And if you do, leave something else out. I will recover from the immense Bolognese trauma I have suffered. And all will turn out OK, or perfect. If I do make the sauce and I live to tell it, I will finally give you the recipe, because this time, I will remember it, write it down and include all the details of it. This pasta sauce I made, with the tomato pulp, one big onion, two cloves of garlic and two carrots: it was great. It was tasty, it was subtle, it was simple. And it dawned on me: pasta sauce is supposed to be simple. Pasta is supposed to be simple. Even when it isn’t, it should always taste as if it is the simplest thing on earth.