Thread Number: 59126  /  Tag: Recipes, Cooking Accessories
OK... What do you call Tomato Sauce... "Sauce" or "Gravy" ???
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Post# 816912   4/1/2015 at 13:14 (930 days old) by toploader55 (Massachusetts Sand Bar, Cape Cod)        

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In Parts of New Jersey it's called Sauce.


In Worcester, (Wustah) Mass. My friend calls it Gravy.


Which brings to mind also...


Macaroni or Pasta ? Or Noodles ?


What do you call it from Your Neck of the Woods ???

Post# 816913 , Reply# 1   4/1/2015 at 13:15 (930 days old) by toploader55 (Massachusetts Sand Bar, Cape Cod)        
In Barnstable...

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pronounced on the Cape : " Bahnstible "... We call it Pasta and Sauce.

Post# 816920 , Reply# 2   4/1/2015 at 13:28 (930 days old) by petek (Ontari ari ari O )        

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Pasta and sauce around here...   paasta,, not pawsta   LOL




Post# 816923 , Reply# 3   4/1/2015 at 13:39 (930 days old) by washingpowder (NYC)        

Gravy refers to a sauce thickened with starch; often based on meat drippings or deglazed pan contents. Tomato sauce is definitely 'sauce'.
Macaroni is a shape of pasta, known to be commonly used for mac'n cheese. Wildly guessing, probably originated from Italian 'maccheroni'.
Generally noodles are made out of dough (mostly wheat; Asians however use rice and soy flours too). Easiest way of making them would be rolling out the dough thinly, rolling it up and cutting into narrow strips, which is why the term is widely used now for products shaped like linguine or similar.
'Pasta' refers to noodles made with durum wheat or semolina, the latter almost always used in commercial dry pasta production, very often without eggs.
It's all just "technically" today, unfortunately. Heard and read those terms being used interchangeably.

Post# 816937 , Reply# 4   4/1/2015 at 15:20 (930 days old) by perc-o-prince (Southboro, Mass)        

Don't let our Rhode Island contingent hear that! For most of them, the tomato-based topping served on pasta/macaroni/noodles, especially on Sunday, is gravy! LOL

We generally call long strands and shapes by their name (spaghetti, linguini, angel hair, farfalle, etc). Macaroni was usually elbows. Noodles were usually of the egg variety like for stroganoff. The term pasta for us is usually generic- "Wanna have pasta for dinner?" not referring to anything in particular. Could even be ravioli!

And the tomato-based topping is sauce.


Post# 816941 , Reply# 5   4/1/2015 at 15:32 (930 days old) by chachp (Conway, AR)        
I'm from upsate New York originally...

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And a good old Italian Boy.  I echo what Chuck (perc-o-prince) said:


We generally call long strands and shapes by their name (spaghetti, linguini, angel hair, farfalle, etc). Macaroni was usually elbows. Noodles were usually of the egg variety like for stroganoff. The term pasta for us is usually generic- "Wanna have pasta for dinner?" not referring to anything in particular. Could even be ravioli!

And the tomato-based topping is sauce.


Post# 816944 , Reply# 6   4/1/2015 at 15:41 (930 days old) by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

Spaghetti and sauce, except for when my brother was learning to talk and it was skabetti and my cousin Lester called it Pisketti.

Post# 816957 , Reply# 7   4/1/2015 at 16:42 (930 days old) by RevvinKevin (Between Mickey Mouse & the Queen Mary (So. Cal.)        
I too want to generally echo perc-o-prince & chachp

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I generally refer to most all as “pasta”, i.e. a possible option for dinner.   But when I’m cooking for example, I use its specific name (spaghetti, penne, fusilli, etc).   I tend to think of any "noodle" with roots going back to Italy as "pasta".


I do not refer to Asian rice based noodles as pasta, for the above reason.


Tomato based (whatever) over/with pasta is a "red sauce" or "pasta sauce".


Gravy to me is served with meat, has meat juices in it, is thickened with flour and is void of tomatoes.


=    =    =    =    =    =


Tom, funny that you brought up skabetti and pasketti!  I remember pronouncing it skabetti and some neighbor kids or friends pronouncing it pasketti.




This post was last edited 04/01/2015 at 17:03
Post# 816963 , Reply# 8   4/1/2015 at 17:09 (930 days old) by turquoisedude (Ogden & St-Liboire (where??), QC, Canada)        

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La sauce et les pâtes in this neck of the woods!!  


En anglais, tomato sauce is called just that - sauce.  Pasta is often identified by the type of pasta (spaghetti, rotini, penne, etc). 

Post# 816983 , Reply# 9   4/1/2015 at 20:01 (930 days old) by Frigilux (The Minnesota Prairie)        

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Sauce. Always.

Post# 816984 , Reply# 10   4/1/2015 at 20:05 (930 days old) by joeypete (Concord, NH)        

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I'm Italian and my family is from NJ. My Gram always called tomato sauce "gravy", though my dad never did. We called pasta "macaroni" for the most part. From watching the "Frugal Gourmet", he discussed this as well. He said gravy is a tomato sauce that is slow cooked for hours. That's what my Gram did!

Post# 816986 , Reply# 11   4/1/2015 at 20:19 (930 days old) by stan (Napa CA)        
Around here

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Old Italians (there's a lot ) call it gravy. I learned to make it from them, and it's slow cooked at least 4 hours. According to them it's not fit to eat unless it is.

Post# 816989 , Reply# 12   4/1/2015 at 20:27 (930 days old) by toploader55 (Massachusetts Sand Bar, Cape Cod)        

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I myself refer to gravy as in Turkey, Chicken, Beef Gravy etc.


I just started this thread to see what different areas of the Country (World as well) called their Tomato Based ... Sauce. I always called it Sauce. From the Culinary Institute of America it is called Tomato Sauce.


Yes, and Chucks description of Pasta, Noodles, Macaroni et al is my same line of thinking.  I just find it amusing when some parts of the country, state, neighborhoods called Tomato Sauce "Gravy".


Or when they call any shape Pasta "Macaroni".


Now one step further... What kind of Cheese to you like ?


Parmesan, Romano, Asiago, Pecarino, Green Kraft Shaker, Store Brand ???


And do you grate your own or do you buy pre grated/shredded ?


Post# 816991 , Reply# 13   4/1/2015 at 20:49 (930 days old) by luxflairguy (Sumas, WA)        

In the NW it's sauce...It's what printed on the label, right?
Cheese--parma all the way and I grate my own in the Cuisinart. Have for years. Costco has good parma and I go through quite a bit.

Post# 816993 , Reply# 14   4/1/2015 at 20:54 (930 days old) by abcomatic (Bradford, Illinois)        

In the middle of Illinois it is called tomato sauce. Pasta is the over all term and then specific terms such as macaroni etc. Noodles are called noodles. Pasta salad is the term used for that particular dish as opposed to lettuce salad, gelatin salad etc.

Post# 816998 , Reply# 15   4/1/2015 at 21:36 (929 days old) by MixGuy (St. Martinville, Louisiana)        
Pasta with Sauce and Rice with gravy

In South Louisiana: Pasta has Sauce and Rice or Potatoes are usually served with gravy. Cajun make gravies (pan juices that are thickened and tomato is added in certain dishes for flavorand/or color. Smoked sausage with tomato gravy is popular and often served in schools for lunch. A variation of Shrimp Creole that is popular here is Shrimp Sauce Piquante (it literally means spicy but is really flavorful, and not due to being overly peppered). Sauce Piquante is made featuring any seafood.

Post# 817004 , Reply# 16   4/1/2015 at 22:16 (929 days old) by Frigilux (The Minnesota Prairie)        

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Parmigiano Reggiano. The real deal.

Post# 817008 , Reply# 17   4/1/2015 at 23:31 (929 days old) by Ultramatic (New York City)        

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Sauce. Gravy is a rue made of meat drippings and flour. Pasta for everything, sometimes call it what it is, Penne, Spaghetti etc. Noodles can be many things here. Udon, Rice, Soba, Hokkien, Egg etc.

Post# 817016 , Reply# 18   4/2/2015 at 00:14 (929 days old) by A440 ()        

Tomato Sauce Sweety. 

Post# 817023 , Reply# 19   4/2/2015 at 01:31 (929 days old) by sudsmaster (East of SF, West of Eden)        

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Never heard anyone refer to spaghetti sauce as "gravy" until I heard a character on The Sopranos say it. I thought it very odd.


And lately around this house it's not really gravy unless it's made from a roux.





Post# 817101 , Reply# 20   4/2/2015 at 14:42 (929 days old) by brib68 (Central Connecticut)        
In Connecticut

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many, many people call it gravy. And lasagna is served at all holiday meals--Easter, Christmas, Thanksgiving...

They also call mozzarella cheese "mootz" and ricotta "rigut". And along the shoreline, the first letter of "pizza" is "A". (Apizza--pronounced uh-PEETZ)

I'm from the midwest, so I call the red stuff "sauce" even if I have picked up mootz and rigut in my speech. And I can't throw stones, because I use words like "hamloaf" and "goetta" that have no translation here. And yes, I say "pop" in reference to carbonated soft drinks.

Post# 817108 , Reply# 21   4/2/2015 at 15:18 (929 days old) by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

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Tomato sauce here. I have never heard anyone whom I know use any other label.

I think I use both "pasta" and "noodles". Pasta is probably the "default." But I might sometimes say "spaghetti noodles." I can't say for sure, but I think "noodles" might be the "standard" when I was quite young.

As for cheese, I almost never bother these days. Years back, when I was cooking more (and more of a snob), I liked getting parmesan and grating it. The choice of parmesan was possibly influenced by A) commonly called for in one cookbook I liked and B) easy to come by. (This was 20 years ago. I can't recall for sure, but I don't think the variety of cheese was as diverse in the average grocery store as it is now.)

Post# 817113 , Reply# 22   4/2/2015 at 16:18 (929 days old) by perc-o-prince (Southboro, Mass)        
What kind of Cheese to you like?

I love Pecorino Romano for the sharpness, but Parmagiano Reggiano is my preference for lighter. Rich brought home a big block from Ventimigilia and it's so-o-o good!


Post# 817114 , Reply# 23   4/2/2015 at 16:20 (929 days old) by wayupnorth (On a lake between Bangor and Bar Harbor)        

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Up here it is sauce, as gravy is what you put on meat and potatoes. Pasta is referred to what it is, noodles, macaroni or spaghetti. We call it soda but other regions call it pop. Its interesting to see every part of this big country has a lot of diversity in what things are referred to as.

Post# 817134 , Reply# 24   4/2/2015 at 19:15 (929 days old) by warmsecondrinse (Fort Lee, NJ)        

My ex's family always referred to what they made as "sauce". it was generally light and cooked fairly quickly, 20-25 minutes. If meat was added, it was usually cooked separately and added to the sauce in the last 10 minutes of simmering.

"Gravy" referred to thick, heavy meat based sauces in which the meat did most of its cooking (simmered 2-3 hours) after having been seared/braised/browned beforehand. This was regarded as a 'southern' style of sauce and generally made for holidays or other special events when time allowed. It was not part of the region's regular cuisine.

'Pasta' was the word used, but more often the name for the specific type of pasta was used. IIRC, 'macaroni' referred to an American style pasta dish.

Cheese? Pecorino Romano is my favorite.

As to pronunciation differences one finds here, there are several general trends one finds in Italian. As one moves south in Italy...

1. the vowel at the end of the word tends to disappear.
2.hard 'c' picks up a voice if it's near the stressed vowel and becomes hard 'g'.

So #1 and #2 combine to make 'ricOtta -> 'rigOt'

I'd guess that the 'a' in 'a-peetz' is a leftover/semi Anglicized 'la' (the).

Italian has an amazing number of dialects, many of which are not mutually comprehensible. The dialects of 2 cities 100 miles apart can have major differences in both vocabulary and grammar. Incidentally 'Italian' as we think of it here, is actually a fairly new invention. It was designed by committee as a second dialect that all Italians would learn in school so everyone in the newly united Italy of the 1800's would (eventually) be able to talk to each other.


Post# 817135 , Reply# 25   4/2/2015 at 19:16 (929 days old) by Intuitive (Sydney-Australia)        
tomato sauce etc.....

Down in Australia; Tomato sauce is our version of Ketchup and pasta sauce or pasetta is the base for all things tomato pasta sauce.

PS. Best cheese for pasta is Reggiano


Post# 817138 , Reply# 26   4/2/2015 at 19:53 (929 days old) by sudsmaster (East of SF, West of Eden)        

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Well I grew up near New Haven and we were basically surrounded by Italian-American families. Never heard any of them refer to spaghetti sauce as gravy. But maybe they were deferring to the non-Italians. I don't know. We left CT when I was 11 years old, so my exposure to alternate word choices may have been age-limited. We moved to San Francisco where the main ethnic fare was Chinese (Cantonese).



Post# 817139 , Reply# 27   4/2/2015 at 19:55 (929 days old) by Blackstone (Springfield, Massachusetts)        
House of Gravy

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Sorry, but whenever I think of gravy, I can't get this video out of my head.


Post# 817142 , Reply# 28   4/2/2015 at 20:10 (929 days old) by alr2903 (TN)        
Way Down South..

Post# 817161 , Reply# 29   4/2/2015 at 20:59 (929 days old) by whirlykenmore78 (Prior Lake MN (GMT-0700 CDT.))        
Here in the Twin Cities we call it Pasta and Sauce:

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While My red sauce could be technically a gravy: (I fry the meat and then deglaze the pot to release the fond and finish the sauce from there). I still call it pasta sauce.
Any red pasta sauce that does not involve the deglazing of a pan of meat drippings is NOT A GRAVY! To be a gravy it has to contain the drippings/fond from cooking meat.

Post# 817166 , Reply# 30   4/2/2015 at 21:28 (928 days old) by Joe_in_philly (Philadelphia, PA, USA)        

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I call it sauce, but my grandparents called it gravy. I grew up in Ohio (nobody said gravy there), but now live in South Philly where some of my grandparents grew up. It is still common to hear older people in my neighborhood speaking Italian, and if someone says they made gravy, it is assumed to be tomato sauce. I have noticed that a lot of Italians from nearby New Jersey will say gravy.

CLICK HERE TO GO TO Joe_in_philly's LINK

Post# 817177 , Reply# 31   4/2/2015 at 22:54 (928 days old) by xraytech (S.W. Pennsylvania, near Pittsb)        

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For me anything that is based off of fat thickened with flour/cornstarch is a gravy, anything else is a sauce, such as tomato sauce, pasta sauce.

My cheese of choice is Romano, I like it's sharp and salty taste.

Also for us all forms of pasta etc we call noodles. I'm assuming that is mostly from the Eastern European background, all my grandparents call everything noodles.

Post# 817184 , Reply# 32   4/3/2015 at 01:09 (928 days old) by sudsmaster (East of SF, West of Eden)        

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This all reminds of a time I went with some friends to an Italian restaurant in Monterey. I had arrived a bit late and wasn't really hungry. But I had heard the term "Pasta fazool" and wondered what it was, and asked if I could have some. I think someone asked if I wanted beans with it, which seemed weird to me, and I pictured some baked beans on the side, so I said  "no beans". Well, what came out was a bowl of limp macaroni swimming in nothing but plain tomato sauce, like you'd get out of a can. It was awful. I took one spoonful and not more. Years later I looked it up in Google and realized that Pasta Fazool is supposed to have beans in it, that meal in Monterey probably would have been a lot better had I said "yes" to the bean question. It's also possible it wasn't a very good restaurant.




Post# 817250 , Reply# 33   4/3/2015 at 10:35 (928 days old) by warmsecondrinse (Fort Lee, NJ)        

You guys are making me 'homesick' for the food my ex's family cooked. They're from Abruzzo, which has a cuisine quite different from what most people think of as "Italian". Because of the geography (I assume) they seem have a little bit of everything edible but not much of any one thing. Result: There's a local recipe for damn near everything: deer, goat, lamb, quail, guinea hen, duck, goose, rabbit (very popular!), freshwater mussels, and everything that comes out of the Adriatic, including jellyfish. It's also unique (so I'm told) because it's one of the few areas that eat rice AND pasta. In general the cuisine seems to be heavier on vegetables (especially legumes) & eggs(!) and lighter on meat than other areas. Whole grain pasta is not unusual, although it seems to be regarded as old-fashioned peasant food.

Also interesting is that I'm told that much of the food that's regular fare in Abruzzo is regarded as 'Jewish' in other areas in Italy. That in itself is interesting as Judaism in Italy is a bit more complex than the Ashkenazic or Sephardic grouping(s) we think of in the U.S. (yes, I know I'm oversimplifying).

Another uncommon thing is the 'cooked wine' that is made because it is able to withstand the summer heat. It seems to be different from the 'vino cotto' I've read about and few Italian-Americans I've spoken with seem to have heard of it. No worries, I learned to make it from a guy who was regarded as one of the top wine makers in the village the family came from. Better yet, NOBODY now alive in the family knows how to do it...... only me .

I don't miss my ex, but I really, really miss the food!


Post# 817280 , Reply# 34   4/3/2015 at 14:13 (928 days old) by perc-o-prince (Southboro, Mass)        
pasta fazool

IIRC, "pasta e fagioli" literally means "pasta with beans" so why would they offer it without? And plain tomato sauce? My aunt always makes it with chicken broth and I can't remember ever seeing it made with red sauce.

But, just as dialects differ from region to region, so do dishes!

WK, depending on what I'm doing or how I feel, I too sometimes brown meat then deglaze the fond with wine and add it to the pot of red. More often than not, though, if I'm using meat I've been putting it on the grill to sear it then cut it and put it (with the juices) in the pot.


Post# 817321 , Reply# 35   4/3/2015 at 17:54 (928 days old) by sudsmaster (East of SF, West of Eden)        
pasta e fagioli

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Whatever it was, it was awful.


Even just plain pasta sautéed with garlic and olive oil, with some salt and ground pepper, would have been better.


The cook might have been Mexican with even less knowledge of the dish than I had.


Post# 817358 , Reply# 36   4/3/2015 at 20:55 (928 days old) by angus (Fairfield, CT.)        

What I recall from the Brooklyn corner of the five boroughs is that what you made on Sunday (with meatballs, sausage and braciole) was gravy. If you referred to any tomato based concoction as sauce, it was a quick cooked marinara or in the summer when we had bushels of fresh plum tomatoes my mother made "summer sauce" - no meat and very much like marinara but no oregano.

Pasta was called by whatever it's name was - spaghetti, linguine, fettucine, lasagne, ravioli, manicotti, mafalde (basically looked like thin lasagne) or fusilli (the long ones - not the short).

Macaroni was a generic term that was used as a catch all.

The use of the Americanized terms for mozzarella and ricotta were also heard throughout Connecticut - my father;s family was from Stamford and their Italian pronunciations were abysmal... Quite frankly so was their cooking. Very heavy American interpretations of Italian items and Sunday gravy you could spread with a paint trowel.

Thank God my mother's family was directly from Naples...through New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast and settled in Brooklyn. Kind of like the people pictured in the Anna Magnani movie "The Rose Tattoo" but on speed...

Post# 818450 , Reply# 37   4/10/2015 at 10:51 (921 days old) by RevvinKevin (Between Mickey Mouse & the Queen Mary (So. Cal.)        
OK... I have a question....

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For those of you that refer to tomato based pasta / spaghetti / noodle sauce as "gravy"...


Then what do you call "actual" gravy that is poured over meat, mashed potatoes, french fries, etc??




BTW.... Fred (Blackstone) that House of Gravy video was VERY funny!  Thanks for sharing it!

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Post# 818456 , Reply# 38   4/10/2015 at 11:09 (921 days old) by appnut (TX)        

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I"ve read through the thread and am in line. Only time I heard it referred to as gravy was from Italian heritage family from NYC/NJ in 1986. Everyone else has called it not being gravy. Pasta sauce and genereically referred to as pasta until the need for a specified type of pasta.

Post# 818652 , Reply# 39   4/10/2015 at 20:57 (921 days old) by angus (Fairfield, CT.)        

Kevin - That other gravy was universally referred to as "brown gravy". So, the conversation would go something like this:

Me: "Ma, what are having for supper? (note I didn't call it "dinner")
Ma: "Roast beef (or loin of pork, or turkey or chicken, etc...), mashed potatoes, peas and "brown gravy"

So whatever the meat, it was served with "brown gravy"... regardless of the shade of brown.

Post# 818828 , Reply# 40   4/11/2015 at 17:05 (920 days old) by countryguy (Astorville, ON, Canada)        

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I've never, ever heard anyone refer to tomato sauce as gravy. All the cans in the stores around here say tomato sauce....not tomato gravy.

Post# 819500 , Reply# 41   4/16/2015 at 05:40 (915 days old) by retro-man (nashua,nh)        

Was grocery shopping the other day and for the 1st time there was a small display of jars set up and the label on the front in big letters say Red Gravy. Never saw it before. Its made by a local company called "Ya Mammas'.


Post# 819628 , Reply# 42   4/17/2015 at 01:53 (914 days old) by sudsmaster (East of SF, West of Eden)        

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Or just don't call it anything.


I picked up a four pack of Bertoli "Organic Olive Oil, Basil, and Garlic", with "sauce" in tiny letters that are not readily readable in the store. It's not bad over cavatappi pasta, which I have a surplus of these days.

Post# 819635 , Reply# 43   4/17/2015 at 05:19 (914 days old) by toploader55 (Massachusetts Sand Bar, Cape Cod)        

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There are some pretty darn good jarred sauces out there.

One of my favorite quick Pasta Dinners is saute some Onions and Garlic in Olive Oil. Add some white wine, a can of Tuna, (Preferably Tonno in Olive Oil), and then some Marinara and a pinch of Crushed Red Pepper. Serve on Fusilli or Rotini. or any Pasta that will hold the sauce.

Post# 820077 , Reply# 44   4/19/2015 at 20:02 (912 days old) by Joe_in_philly (Philadelphia, PA, USA)        

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Over the weekend I saw this sign outside a restaurant in the Italian Market near me.

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Post# 820089 , Reply# 45   4/19/2015 at 21:14 (911 days old) by toploader55 (Massachusetts Sand Bar, Cape Cod)        

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Gravy does exist in certain areas.

Post# 820092 , Reply# 46   4/19/2015 at 21:24 (911 days old) by miele_ge (Danbury, Connecticut)        
Eddie, We have a name for that in our house.....

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"Assistante del tonno" - Tuna Helper in Italian!  


I love it - my partner can't stand the idea of it - reminds him of Tuna Helper when he was a kid.  


But I make mine with canned San Marzano tomatoes - no jarred sauce in my house!  Found 2 versions of it - one from Marcella Hazan and one from Biba Caggiano  which is my preferred one - after  all "You Can't Make A Booboo with Biba!"


Green Acres fans will remember my tag line from the episode where Lisa makes a boxed cake mix IN THE BOX.  The Brand was "Bibbers" and their slogan was "You Can't Make a Booboo with Bibbers".  I guess they were right because Oliver proclaimed in surprise that the cake was good.  Of course, anything was better than those Hot Cakes!  :-)




Post# 820117 , Reply# 47   4/20/2015 at 04:06 (911 days old) by toploader55 (Massachusetts Sand Bar, Cape Cod)        
Hey Alan

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When the woman that showed me how to make this Tuna Sauce, she called it "Linguine con Tonno".

The jarred sauce thing...

Sometimes when your in the Kitchen (Restaurant) all day and it's busy, you forget to eat sometimes. And after awhile, you get tired of everything that you have in house. In house meaning food at the restaurant.

So you get home, have a drink or glass of wine and then it strikes you ... " I haven't eaten a thing all day".... Enter the wonderful world of Pantry Staples.
Box of Pasta, Can of Tuna, Jar of Sauce. In the fridge.. That Spanish onion that is beginning to sprout, a wedge of cheese and some garlic.

The possibilities are endless.

Post# 820125 , Reply# 48   4/20/2015 at 08:09 (911 days old) by miele_ge (Danbury, Connecticut)        
Eddie - i think i get it now

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When you do something for a living you don't always want to do it for fun - especially when you're tired and hungry.  Point taken :-)


Post# 820195 , Reply# 49   4/20/2015 at 17:45 (911 days old) by whirlykenmore78 (Prior Lake MN (GMT-0700 CDT.))        
Pantry Staples:

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Of course I get it Eddie. There's days where the inmates eat twice before I see more than a cup of coffee. Also there are some days where I get tired of the prison food(although it is fairly good) and just want something else. Coming Home I don't want to do a big meal and then it's pizza night.

Post# 820196 , Reply# 50   4/20/2015 at 18:09 (911 days old) by ptcruiser51 (Boynton Beach, FL)        
Garden State translation

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I didn't have many Italian friends as a young child. We always called anything red "tomato sauce" or "spaghetti sauce". We were poor, so all we ever had was actual spaghetti or macaroni. Maybe on rare occasions rotini (spirals). Or for a real treat, "wagon wheels". Gravy for us was always meat-based brown stuff. Served over meat, spuds, or leftovers. Even the greasy spoons/diners referred to your choice of french fries or home fries as a "frenchy gravy". I still order this way, responded by puzzled expressions.

Post# 820209 , Reply# 51   4/20/2015 at 19:44 (911 days old) by toploader55 (Massachusetts Sand Bar, Cape Cod)        
You Know Nick.

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I am surrounded by Fresh Seafood that is not in my cooler more than 36 hours we're so busy and have the ordering down pat.


But when I get home, just a nice simple pasta or Roast Chicken is heaven !!!


Yup. Those days where you jump on the line and it's just busy and it rolls into the dinner rush, you just want to get out.

Post# 820309 , Reply# 52   4/21/2015 at 11:49 (910 days old) by foraloysius (Groningen, the Netherlands)        

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Here's a recipe for tomato based gravy

Post# 820358 , Reply# 53   4/21/2015 at 17:50 (910 days old) by perc-o-prince (Southboro, Mass)        
Of course, anything was better than those Hot Cakes!

Oh, but remember when it was in Lisa Douglas-ese it was "hots cakes!" Still love that show, and the best moments were the electrical system that was run on the system of 7!


Post# 959936 , Reply# 54   9/30/2017 at 16:20 by agiflow2 (iselin, nj)        

Being from the NY/NJ area we probably have the highest concentration of Italians in the US. In my neck of the woods it was called making a "pot of gravy".

Post# 959983 , Reply# 55   10/1/2017 at 00:08 by mrsalvo (New Braunfels Texas)        

"Up here it is sauce, as gravy is what you put on meat and potatoes. Pasta is referred to what it is, noodles, macaroni or spaghetti. We call it soda but other regions call it pop. Its interesting to see every part of this big country has a lot of diversity in what things are referred to as."

My family is from Missouri/Arkansas region, we always called it sauce, gravy was brown or white to go over various meat / potato dishes. Sodas were called Cokes, no matter the flavor. Southern cooking was really loaded in fat (mostly lard and cornmeal, most things fried except the Sunday Brisket or Pot Roast, not the most healthy diet by far but socio economic factors played heavily into the foods. In Lous. the foods were often spicy (NOT a family favorite) and coffee was made much, much stronger (Cajun)....could grow hair on your chest!!!! LOL.

Fried Chicken, Fried Mushrooms, Green Fried Tomatoes, Fried pork, Fried Fish, Fried Noodles, Fried Okra, Fried Potatoes, Fried Squash, Fried Funnel Cakes, Fried Eggs, ETC. ETC. If it was cookable it was fried, sadly it still is in many economically depressed areas. Arteries were clogged by the age of 40, many died in their 50's. Sorry guys, I got off topic.

Post# 959986 , Reply# 56   10/1/2017 at 01:11 by askolover (South of Nash Vegas, TN)        
First you make a roux

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as they say in NOLA.  Gravy is made from meat drippings and flour.  And the generic term for a soft drink here is "coke".  "What kind of coke do you want?  Dr. Pepper please." 

Tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, lasagna sauce.  We refer to pasta as the particular noodle that it is...spaghetti, macaroni, rotini, etc.

Post# 960123 , Reply# 57   10/1/2017 at 22:37 by agiflow2 (iselin, nj)        

Well I would say our sauces/Gravy were flavored with meat BIG TIME. We would make meatballs, sausage, pork neck bones and braciole. Let that simmer in the "Gravy" after you fried all the meat up. What a delicious meal. We never said pasta either when referring to what kind we eat. We said ziti or spaghetti.

Post# 960129 , Reply# 58   10/1/2017 at 23:52 by brucelucenta (tulsa, oklahoma)        

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Whadda you crazy? It's sauce of course!

Post# 960166 , Reply# 59   10/2/2017 at 06:57 by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        

call it "sugo" which means sauce. Amaggio sauce is chunky, served mainly with breaded steak Siciliano. Marinara is meatless sauce. Bolognese sauce can have meat, and wine.
There is also vodka red tomato sauce. Call it all gravy if you wish.
The french have 3 basic sauces. The mother sauce, or white sauce, also known as bechemel. Butter sauce, or Bernaise, and Gastrique's, which are meat and or wine sauces reduced by at least 1/3 to 1/2 to enhance flavors.

A thickened sauce from butter and flour is began with a roiux. When cream or milk is added, it becomes a white sauce, like for macaroni and cheese. Tempering in egg yolks and lemon juice makes it hollandaise sauce.
If stock, and or wine is added, it becomes a gumbo, etoufe', or gravy.
Is fille' gumbo a soup, or sauce, or a stew? I guess it depends on the meats and vegetables added

Post# 960169 , Reply# 60   10/2/2017 at 07:20 by joeekaitis (Rialto, California, USA)        
Half-Italian on my mom's side . . .

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She always called it sauce.  Gravy is what you make from meat or poultry pan drippings.

Post# 960187 , Reply# 61   10/2/2017 at 09:20 by foraloysius (Groningen, the Netherlands)        
Vodka red tomato sauce

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I'm sorry, but that is definitely not from Italy. A real Sicilian mama would never use vodka in one of her recipes. Most likely it comes from Sicilians in the USA who adepted their recipes.

Post# 960214 , Reply# 62   10/2/2017 at 11:05 by dermacie (my forever home (Glenshaw, PA))        

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My late grandmother who came from southern Italy always called it sauce. She called all pasta macaroni. We lived in Pittsburgh, she almost always had meatballs, but we used the sauce like a gravy on any type of meat she may have served.

Post# 960219 , Reply# 63   10/2/2017 at 11:38 by agiflow2 (iselin, nj)        

Technically it is sauce yes, but when it is cooked for a while and thickened up, that I guess is why some folks of Italian ancestry call it gravy. Gravy or sauce it delicious all the same !

Post# 960234 , Reply# 64   10/2/2017 at 13:42 by washerboy (Little Rock Arkansas)        
Deep South

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Never heard it called's sauce. Gravy is meat drippings/fat mixed with flour/corn starch, water or milk cooked until thick. To each his own is suppose

Post# 960244 , Reply# 65   10/2/2017 at 14:57 by RevvinKevin (Between Mickey Mouse & the Queen Mary (So. Cal.)        
Re: retro-man comment above "red gravy"

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I did a quick search and found this.  Website says "for those who like marinara but like a smooth texture".  Note it also states "pasta sauce" on the lower part of the label.

  View Full Size
Post# 960294 , Reply# 66   10/2/2017 at 20:32 by Gyrafoam (Roanoke, VA)        

If you have lived in the North East triangle, you get used to people describing sauce as gravy especially in New Joisey. I love it either way and when in Rome---------.

Post# 960381 , Reply# 67   10/3/2017 at 09:01 by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        
Yes, I'm certain

vodka sauce didn't originate in Italy. However, Italian specialty markets here make it as a standard variety.
Italy has several different styles of cuisine for the same foods. In Rome, gnocci is usually served with cheese, and no sauce, or a light wine with butter sauce.

My Sicilian born grandma always served it with her all day cooked meat tomato sauce.

She also had this huge porcelain table top board for polenta. She's dump it on there, spread it out, and then the sauce, sazitza (sausage and meatballs went over it all. No plates, just sit down with a fork and mangia.

Post# 960389 , Reply# 68   10/3/2017 at 09:48 by foraloysius (Groningen, the Netherlands)        

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I found this about a vodka sauce:

I guess when it comes to gnocchi, it depends on the region what kind of sauce you eat with it. Gnocchi and melted butter and sage is a classic combination, but I know indeed with a tomatoe sauce or so.

A lot of the Italian recipes used in the USA are often Americanized recipes like spaghetti and meatballs. AFAIK there is a region (forgot which one) where they first eat pasta with the tomato sauce and in the next course the meatballs with vegetables but never spaghetti in one course with the meatballs.

Gennaro Contaldo recently made a video about childhood memories cooking spaghetti and meatballs. He got a lot of comment on that video, that it was not an Italian recipe. Also Anthony Bourdain got a lot of disdain from some Italians when he served them spaghetti and meatballs as Italian food.

Post# 960397 , Reply# 69   10/3/2017 at 10:18 by jkbff (Gladstone, ND)        

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I've always understood gravy to be made in a pan that had meat in it, so a tomato gravy was made in a pan that meat was cooked in. Tomato sauce is just that, nothing to do with meat in the cooking process. Then you have your white gravy, brown gravy, chicken gravy, turkey gravy but how about this curve ball?

I have worked around a lot of Indian families (not Native American) and they always make gravy. It is not sauce, I was specifically told this. Generally tomato based, but it is never sauce.

Post# 960432 , Reply# 70   10/3/2017 at 14:41 by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        
I guarantee that if

you were to visit my 5th. cousin's tratorria in Civitella Roveto Italy, near Avezzano, they have meat ball's on their menu everyday.

They may have been adapted from arroncini, as rice balls may have meat filling and or cheese, to sub plant a second starch with a pasta meal.

Italian's didn't invent pasta, or spaghetti, the Chinese did. Ravioli, kreplah, pierogi, etc., are all similar.

The Pennsylvania Dutch aren't Dutch either, they are German.

Post# 960434 , Reply# 71   10/3/2017 at 14:47 by foraloysius (Groningen, the Netherlands)        

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I have no doubt that your cousin has meatballs on the menu, but does he serve them in a tomato sauce on spaghetti?

Post# 960442 , Reply# 72   10/3/2017 at 15:33 by earthling177 (Boston, MA)        

Look, this is pointless.

The other day the New York Times or Herald or whatever was interviewing "real Italian people" visiting NYC and their reactions to things.


They behaved as if they were the only people who knew how to be True Italians[tm].

Among interesting things:

One of them was livid that people were eating a croissant (or some other pastry) right after lunch as if it was dessert with their coffee. Because, y'know, real Italians only eat that for breakfast. WTF? Sure, it may be a custom to eat it as breakfast, but it's not *forbidden* after that, is it? By whom?

Another woman was all up in arms that "things had too much garlic, and in Italy you only use onion *or* garlic, never the two together".

And scores of people complaining about the pasta with meatballs too.

Here's what I can tell you.

My entire family came *from* Italy. All places, North, South, Sicily etc.

The entire family cooks with garlic *and* onions in whatever way shape or form they want to.

They *all* have served pasta *with* meatballs in the same dish my entire life, and Italians all over South America and North America do that. I'm willing to bet that if you are serving several courses, the pasta might come in one course and the meat in another, while the poorer or people in a hurry probably just serve the dinner all at once, salad, pasta with meatballs, side dishes, and the only other course, if they'll have it, is dessert, which in my family was mostly during the weekends.

I would not doubt for a second that someone asked someone else to translate "sauce" from Italian into English, and the only "sauces" the English speaker knew of were "gravies" so they said "gravy" and it stuck. Or maybe something else happened.

It's something to talk about as curiosity and to know different regions, but it's not a big deal.

Just like you can't get a Latte or Marinara Sauce in Italy. Well, you *can*, but the latte will be just a cup of *milk*, no coffee, and Marinara is *not* tomato sauce like it's here, Marinara refers to the sea and they might give you some sauce made with shellfish or something, not just the "tomato sauce only, please" you get here.

Names like that just *sounded* fun or sold well in America and they stuck, it should not be surprising they happened in reverse like calling tomato-based sauce "gravy".

Before anyone complains that "that makes no sense", well, then, I will have to ask -- does it make *any* sense to you that Starbucks sells coffee or other drinks in "venti" size? "WTF are we talking about?"

"Venti" means 20 in Italian. As in 20 oz. ROFL!

Yeah, just ask for a 20 fluid ounce anything in Italy, let's see what happens?

If Starbucks knew anything about what they wanted to refer to, 20 fl. oz. is 591.47 ml, so they *should* be trying to sell a cup of about 600 ml if they cared; that would be "Seicento", not "venti".

   -- Paulo.

Post# 960449 , Reply# 73   10/3/2017 at 15:54 by foraloysius (Groningen, the Netherlands)        

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More about spaghetti and meatballs:

Post# 960452 , Reply# 74   10/3/2017 at 16:33 by earthling177 (Boston, MA)        

The explanation about people finding more meat for a cheaper cost makes perfect sense to me. The part I'm having a little difficulty with is that spaghetti with meatballs is popular all over North and South America. I'd be satisfied with "well, Walt Disney's Lady and the Tramp made it popular" except that my family ate it in South America since the 30's way before the movie.

So, I'm beginning to think it was firmly rooted in several places in Italian culture before they moved to the Americas.

Why do I think this? Because other dishes which originated in North America did not make it to South America, for example, Italian Wedding Soup.

Other dishes are even more confusing: Fettuccine Alfredo, for example -- researchers claim the dish *did* start in Italy, although the sauce was way more butter based than white sauce based, crossed the Atlantic to both North and South America, then apparently the restaurant in Rome which originated the dish closed and the dish disappeared from Italian repertoire around mid-60's. Italians currently claim Fettuccine Alfredo is an American dish, not Italian.

That's OK by me, I won't complain and I will try not to poke fun. Because really, instead of celebrating that their families went all over the world and came up with other dishes that share most of the ideas of Italian Cuisine, they're poo-pooing that it wasn't invented there. Oh, well. We'll just have to eat the many different varieties of Pizza that one can find in South and North America but not in Italy. Pity.

Although to be honest, everyone has their limits. Some people here insist Hawaiian pizza is great, while others will say that there's no place for pineapple in pizza.


Post# 960455 , Reply# 75   10/3/2017 at 16:35 by CircleW (NE Cincinnati OH area)        

My Uncle Joe (husband of my mom's sister Doris) was well known for his tomato sauce and meatballs. His parents had come from Italy to Mississippi in the early 20th century, so he got the recipe from them. Many times when visiting there he would make spaghetti, and this meatball sauce was served with it.

One time my Aunt Doris took the meatballs to a party that was attended by the wife of the governor of Mississippi, and she thought they were the best she'd ever eaten. My aunt knew her well, so she asked if he would be interested in making some for an event being held at the Governor's Mansion. He agreed to do so, and they were the hit of the party.

Post# 960462 , Reply# 76   10/3/2017 at 17:12 by foraloysius (Groningen, the Netherlands)        

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I'm always willing to learn. What region is your Italian family from? And do you know the Italian name for spaghetti and meatballs? I don't mean the literal translation ofcourse.

In no Italian cookbook, including the Culinaria Italia, I have there is a recipe for it and my Italian friend Irene doesn't know about it either. And then Anna del Conte, who covered the history of Italian food mentions that there is only one pasta dish in which meat is accompanied by pasta: Carne alla Genovese, braised beef served with penne. So I did my research, but I may have missed something.

Fettuccine Alfredo originates indeed from Italy but it was not made with cream. Half Italy would be running for the bathroom after eating a sauce with cream, so cream sauces are not very popular in Italy. A Carbonara is also often made with cream, but originally cream wasn't used in it.

Post# 960463 , Reply# 77   10/3/2017 at 17:35 by ea56 (Sonoma Co.,CA)        

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I've heard the story that Fettuccine Alfedo was originated in Italy expressly for Douglas Fairbanks Sr. and Mary Pickford when they were on their honeymoon in the early 1920's. The story goes that they were staying in a hotel somewhere in Italy and when Mary became hungry during the night they requested for the hotel chef to make them a little something, and this is the dish he came up with. His name was Alfredo hence, Fettuccini Alfedo came into the lexicon. But he prepared the dish with freshly grated parmesan and the rich Italian butter that was available to him, no cream. As I heard the story the butter was supposed to have been different than what we are used to, and had some cream in it making it like a cross between butter and fresh cream.

My Mom was raised near an Italian family in Oakland after her family moved here in 1935. Mrs. Bertoli taught my Mom Italian cooking and she was a great cook. One for the dishes that was Mom's specialty was Fettucinni Neapolitan. It starts out as Alfredo, but is then topped with a delcious tomato based sauce made with crushed tomatoes, mild Italian sausage, mushrooms, green onions, garlic, basil and beer, not wine, because thats what Mrs. Bertoli used. It was a spectacular dish! Most all of my parents friends were pure Italian and they all loved Mom's Fettuccini. Many of them had been to Italy and they all said that Moms' was the best they ever tasted. I'm the only one in the family that still knows how to make it, because I watched her and listened, it was never written down.

And as far as the gravy vs sauce, I believe that sauce is the West Coast vernacular for Italian tomato based pasta sauces, gravy is East Coast terminology. Either way, whatever you call it Italian food is the best!

Post# 960464 , Reply# 78   10/3/2017 at 17:40 by gus (Montevideo, Uruguay)        

Beginning by the end, I´m from Italian origin, but I might be mistaken. Pasta it´s all the food made from flour like gnocchi, ravioli , fetuccini, penne rhigati, etc. Noodles I assume it´s not Italian but Anglo American. Sauce is tomatoe sauce, and gravy it´s like a sort of marinade, some sort of juice you put over food cooked in oven or for salads. Those are my two cents. If I´m wrong correct me. Gus.

Post# 960475 , Reply# 79   10/3/2017 at 18:52 by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        
Yes, the cousins in Italy

eat and serve meatballs with pasta.

To change things up, they also slow simmer an entire beef chuck in the sugo while it is cooking all day.

Post# 960490 , Reply# 80   10/3/2017 at 20:57 by earthling177 (Boston, MA)        


My family came from all over Italy, according to folks who were trying to follow the family roots, I'd have to ask them next time I visit.

I know for sure that my dad's grandfather was from Sicily, I can't remember where his wife was from or where my mom's mother family was from, but I've heard something about Rome and Bologna, just can't be sure. My mom's father came straight from Piedmont, where he was born and raised, but his family came from Austria. When they say they need to go visit family, they mean they'll roam thru the country for a week or two.

The other questions get more difficult to answer not for lack of information, but because well, we were an Italian family. Since I was 3rd or 4th generation, depending on which side of the family you counted, we did not learn Italian besides the very basics and people did not routinely speak Italian except for the accent. If it was a "special" weekend, well, it was obvious we'd be eating lasagna, or ravioli or gnocchi for example, which are also dishes with meat; if we were talking a busy weekend with lots to do, there'd be fettuccine a la Bolognese, which also has meat in it; but there were plenty of weekends which were not one extreme or another, and then, by Wednesday or Thursday, we would be told there'd be pasta with meatballs, or "macarrão com almôndegas" in Portuguese. That'd would start a discussion until Saturday or Sunday, with some people campaigning for one kind of pasta or another: sometimes ziti or penne, sometimes spaghetti or fettuccini etc. It was a thing of beauty and sheer chaos all rolled up in one, because it was a family affair and everything would be discussed. Someone would be making the tomato sauce while someone was rolling the meatballs (always *way* more meat with only enough breadcrumbs to get the right consistency), other people would be making the pasta. People would be shouting orders and/or opinions about what seasonings, how to cook the pasta etc the entire time. You felt everything from joy to exhaustion, but your family was all together making food to which we would sit and eat and there was nothing more important than the family meals at that point.

*After* the meal was over, it was clear that we had "spaghetti with meatballs" or ziti with meatballs and so on and so forth.

There were also the days when we had pasta with tomato sauce and sausages (cooked in the sauce). Those were more rare, I think the women thought they were more fattening or something.

The funny part were the weekends when the food would be something from a different cuisine. It felt so strange and orderly, there was nothing to discuss or talk about -- we were following a recipe from a printed piece of paper and that was the end of it. No "but *my* grandma made it this way" or "didn't use that spice" or anything else. It was quiet, efficient and peaceful. But somehow it did not feel like *our* family, LOL.

The other funny thing in my family was that we'd be eating one meal, say, lunch, and be already talking about what the menu for the next day or two were going to be. It's funny to me the number of times I've been having a meal with friend's families and they start talking about the menu for next day and I ask "let me guess, y'all Italians?" and they go "how did you know?"


Post# 960523 , Reply# 81   10/4/2017 at 01:29 by sudsmaster (East of SF, West of Eden)        

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Well until I was eleven we lived in perhaps the most Italian town in the USA: East Haven, Connecticut. Highest percent of population and all that. I'd guess our neighborhood was over 50% Italian. But I never heard anyone refer to tomato based sauce as "gravy". For some reason it seems like a lazy way to refer to a cuisine that has so many fascinating names in Italian.

Post# 960534 , Reply# 82   10/4/2017 at 05:21 by foraloysius (Groningen, the Netherlands)        

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The spaghetti and meatball thing is an interesting mystery. Perhaps we'll never solve it. Wikipedia has a list of pasta dishes, there it's stated too that it's originally from the USA. I've seen mentioned several times that it was first served in the 1920's

I mentioned Anna del Conte, what she meant was the combination of pieces of meat and pasta. In a bolognese the meat is part of the sauce, but that is not what she meant. On Wikipedia a few other dishes are mentioned, Anna del Conte must have missed those.

The fact that Mike's cousin serves spaghetti and meatballs isn't enough proof I think. This is after WWII, it can be an American influence from the liberation. Paulo's family is more interesting. Especially the combination of meatballs and other pasta, not spaghetti. That could have been originally a pasta dish with the smaller meatballs. What puzzles me too is that in the eyes of Italians spaghetti is not the right type of pasta to go with meatballs because the type of pasta has to fit the sauce. Big chunks, big type of pasta etc.

I have noticed that spaghetti and meatballs sometimes is called spaghetti and Sicilian meatballs. If, what I mentioned before, spaghetti served with tomatosauce/pastasauce and in the next course the meatballs with vegetables (perhaps part of the Cucina povera?), is a Sicilian custom, it would agree with the story that Americans were missing meat in a spaghetti and tomato sauce dish and because of that the Italians put the meatballs on top of it.

So far my anthropological food research for today. lol

Post# 960544 , Reply# 83   10/4/2017 at 08:23 by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        
What would life be

without mysteries?

Example; Wikipedia can be edited by anyone and everyone.

Post# 960546 , Reply# 84   10/4/2017 at 08:51 by MrAlex (London, UK)        

mralex's profile picture
Anything with just tomato I’d call condiment lol

Post# 960561 , Reply# 85   10/4/2017 at 12:01 by foraloysius (Groningen, the Netherlands)        

foraloysius's profile picture
"Wikipedia can be edited by anyone and everyone."

A source is mentioned, so you can check that. Or did you mean to say this particular information is incorrect?

Here's an interesting article about pasta. Spaghetti and meatballs is mentioned here too, but there is much more information about pasta etc.

Post# 960622 , Reply# 86   10/4/2017 at 17:07 by agiflow2 (iselin, nj)        

There is nothing lazy about calling sauce "Gravy". It's more a colloquialism than anything. We know by definition it is not sauce. It's a feel good term that conveys comfort. Sorry if that doesn't fit the prim and proper definition.

Post# 960625 , Reply# 87   10/4/2017 at 17:24 by brucelucenta (tulsa, oklahoma)        

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I think the question is: what do you call someone who asks such a question as this one?

Post# 960627 , Reply# 88   10/4/2017 at 17:25 by brucelucenta (tulsa, oklahoma)        

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I think the question is: what do you call someone who asks such a question as this one? I can think of several things....

This post was last edited 10/04/2017 at 19:58
Post# 960645 , Reply# 89   10/4/2017 at 19:57 by sudsmaster (East of SF, West of Eden)        

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Gravy derives from an older term for meat fat... by definition gravy is such thickened with flour... you can google gravy and pages and pages of flour thickened fat and broth come up, nothing about tomatoes.

I figure the use of the term gravy for what most call spaghetti sauce was an attempt, unconscious perhaps, of early Italian Americans to better assimilate into the general lexicon that anything poured over a carb dish is gravy. To make something uniquely Italian more Americanized.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Post# 960704 , Reply# 90   10/5/2017 at 05:58 by agiflow2 (iselin, nj)        

However it came to be known as gravy i am grateful all the same. It is delicious no matter what you call it.

Post# 960725 , Reply# 91   10/5/2017 at 08:57 by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        
"just tomato"

would be ketchup? Some say catsup on the bottle. Tomato, tomoto.
Then there is puree, and paste.
Why criticize a question?
Enough of us found it questionable enough to reply after 970 days. It was rather fun.

Post# 960758 , Reply# 92   10/5/2017 at 12:35 by MrAlex (London, UK)        

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Vacerator - Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, so.. Sorry not sorry.

Post# 960916 , Reply# 93   10/6/2017 at 11:25 by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        
"sorry" Alex;

I wasn't intending to be critical of you. I like the Heinz "57" varieties too.
I think those great stores you have there carry several of them as well.
ASDA, Morrison's, Tesco, Waitrose, etc.

I can be a foodie snob I admit. I'm retired from the supermarket industry after 35 years.

Post# 960947 , Reply# 94   10/6/2017 at 15:08 by Frigilux (The Minnesota Prairie)        

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On spaghetti and meatballs: My mom, who hailed from Veroli, Italy, came to the US in 1946. She maintained that meatballs served with spaghetti was an American, not Italian creation---although she eventually served it often, as that's what Americans considered an Italian dish. She tended to serve the meatballs as a separate course. You'd have pasta with sauce served prior to the meatballs.

She also maintained that using a spoon to help spin spaghetti around a fork was for small children and the uncouth. That has been contested by others here, but it must have been the custom in the area she was from. I was weaned off the "guiding spoon" by about first grade. I have no problem with a spoon being used, but it drove her to distraction.

She was also a great believer in serving lasagna at every Sunday or holiday meal. Roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy, lasagna. At Thanksgiving, turkey with all the trimmings...and lasagna. My sister used to joke that mom considered it a side dish.

Aside: My mother's real first name was Rosa Maria. My dad and customs officials convinced her to change it to the more American-sounding 'Rosina' when they arrived on these shores. Mom had her revenge when she named my sister. First name: Maria Teresa. Middle Name: Vanda Valentina. My sister had it legally changed to Maria T. (just the initial for a middle name) in her mid-20's.

Post# 960974 , Reply# 95   10/6/2017 at 17:06 by ea56 (Sonoma Co.,CA)        

ea56's profile picture
I love your story about you Mom serving Lasagna every Sunday and Holiday. Here in Northern California almost all the Italians families I know have this same tradition, but instead of Lasagna its Ravioli. No special Italian family dinner is considered complete unless there are Ravioli, or "Rav's" on the table. And if not Rav's, then it would be Gnooci, which is one of my most favorite things in the world, especially with good, fresh homemade Pesto.

And my family also felt the same way about using a spoon to help wrap the spaghetti around the fork, its just not supposed to be done.

I love the Italian culture and their food. I'm married to an Italian too.

Post# 961031 , Reply# 96   10/6/2017 at 22:51 by earthling177 (Boston, MA)        

My family never did the spoon to twirl pasta either, you just spin the fork against the plate and it works just fine.

Post# 961095 , Reply# 97   10/7/2017 at 09:33 by petek (Ontari ari ari O )        

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I remember the first time I saw people twirling their spaghetti using a spoon,..  it's like who does that.  Or cutting their spaghetti with a knife...  that's another one.  LOL.  

Post# 961131 , Reply# 98   10/7/2017 at 13:24 by foraloysius (Groningen, the Netherlands)        

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Or breaking the spaghetti before they cook it.

Post# 961156 , Reply# 99   10/7/2017 at 16:24 by Frigilux (The Minnesota Prairie)        

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Petek and Louis: Both breaking spaghetti prior to cooking and cutting it into smaller strands at the table were major violations in my mom's opinion.  I saw 'Pot-Sized' short spaghetti (HyVee brand) in the grocery store a few months ago and thought, "Mom would freak." LOL


She would twirl a single strand of spaghetti onto a kid-sized fork for me when I was too young to do it myself, but she'd never, ever cut it.  In hindsight the full-length strand would probably be considered a choking hazard for tykes these days.

Post# 961207 , Reply# 100   10/7/2017 at 18:39 by countryguy (Astorville, ON, Canada)        

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I always break the spaghetti in half so that it fits in the pot....still tastes the same LOL


Post# 961217 , Reply# 101   10/7/2017 at 19:25 by Frigilux (The Minnesota Prairie)        

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Re: Gary's post above.


Louis, please post the cat photo! LOL

Post# 961226 , Reply# 102   10/7/2017 at 20:32 by mtn1584 (USA)        

Bronx NY born and bred Italian here...
Macaroni always!!! I hate the word p***a!
I call it marinara and when there’s meat in it, a meat gravy.
Grew up though calling everything gravy.

Post# 961235 , Reply# 103   10/7/2017 at 21:35 by foraloysius (Groningen, the Netherlands)        

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Post# 961265 , Reply# 104   10/8/2017 at 01:25 by norgeway (mocksville n c )        
No matter what you call it

I LOVE it, any Italian dish is GOOD!

Post# 961273 , Reply# 105   10/8/2017 at 01:59 by sudsmaster (East of SF, West of Eden)        

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One useful suggestion I saw recently: don't rinse cooked spaghetti. This removes the thin layer of starch that otherwise helps the tomato sauce/gravy/condiment to adhere to the pasta.

Post# 961276 , Reply# 106   10/8/2017 at 02:53 by norgeway (mocksville n c )        
The old cook books

Say to rinse, but I never knew anyone who did, I don't, but I do break spaghetti up in pieces....I know, its a no no, but its easier to eat without making a mess.

Post# 961282 , Reply# 107   10/8/2017 at 04:12 by foraloysius (Groningen, the Netherlands)        

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I could post a whole bunch of cats here! lol

Italians don't rinse their pasta, they even add some starchy pasta water to make the binding between the pasta and the sauce. It's a must for recipes like a puttanesca.

But... People with diabetes can get away a bit more when eating pasta when the pasta is cooled off then reheated. Reheating is essential here. That method gives a smaller rise in blood glucose.

Post# 961375 , Reply# 108   10/8/2017 at 19:11 by sudsmaster (East of SF, West of Eden)        

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Pasta is naturally more diabetic friendly than, say, potatoes or refined wheat flour. The reason is that the starch in pasta is more slowly digested than the refined starch in flour, or in potatoes. This means a more gradual rise in blood glucose that diabetics may find easier to handle. I imagine the cooling and reheating of pasta somehow may make the starch even more slow to digest.

I wonder if there are any studies to document the effect?

Post# 961430 , Reply# 109   10/9/2017 at 02:57 by DaveAMKrayoGuy (Oak Park, MI)        

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Spaghetti Sauce--Pasta Sauce, much like how Pancake Syrup should just be MAPLE Syrup, if it is to go on WAFFLES!

Never heard of tomato gravy, (or any kind of tomato sauce being referred to that way) but surely there must be a way to make it the way you would make regular brown gravy...

-- Dave

Post# 961444 , Reply# 110   10/9/2017 at 05:37 by chachp (Conway, AR)        
Italian born and raised

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My Grandparents were from Italy.  My parents were born here.  


Every Sunday was dinner with the family at my Grandparents house.  Meatballs, Sausage, and Braciole was served separately from the Pasta with "Sauce".  We never called it Gravy.  Then they would clear the table, put out fruit and bowls of nuts that the "men" snacked on while waiting on desert which was usually something like Ricotta Cheese pie or something like that.  Everything was home made including the Pasta.  My Grandmother spent the entire day on Saturday cooking for all of us.  I can remember playing with all my cousins after dinner while the "men" sat at the table with their pants unbuttoned LOL.


Such great memories.  Do families do this anymore?

Post# 961468 , Reply# 111   10/9/2017 at 08:44 by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        
Yes, we do gather

on a weekly basis. Sometimes I/we cook. Our 7 month old grandson keeps us at home, so we have only taken him to a restaurant once so far.
Our son goes to his girlfriends Italian/Polosh grandmothers for Sunday dinner. Thats just the way it is. The guy goes to the spouses family most of the time.
On occasion, they both join us.
With everyone on different schedules, it's difficult to gather more than our immediate family often. My sister in law has tried to do it monthly at a restaurant. My nephew and his partner moved to Chicago last week. The rest of us are within one hour of each other. Still thats distance.
A brother in law has taken a job in Elizabethtown Ky, and is only home once a month. His adult son takes care of their house here. They bought a second smaller house there, as the job will be for 5 years, then they will retire. His wife goes back and forth on 2 week intervals as of now.
Thats life I guess.

An aunt in California passed away a few weeks ago, and they had the funeral service a week later because their kids are all over California and couldn't come on a moments notice.

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