Everything good in life has a secret ingredient. Take my mother’s meatballs. Her secret ingredient is spearmint mixed with fresh Romano cheese, Italian bread, egg, hamburger, garlic, plus a dash of salt and pepper. She forms the rounded balls and cooks them in heated olive oil until glazed with a crispy flavor. Her sauce has its own secret ingredients but if you add a little love, garlic and dried spearmint you might be headed in the right direction.
If you grew up in an Italian household, you can understand the importance of food and family. Italian women cook enough food to feed an army but anxiously worry if there is enough to go around. That is the death of an Italian – to run out of food. Shame is said to fall on your name for light years until you are reincarnated seven times over to forgive you for the sin of all sins.
The spearmint growing in my garden came from my grandmother. Dried each year by my family members, it is savored on those winter nights when spaghetti and meatballs are as soothing as a warm fire or a pot of freshly brewed tea.
With this weekend’s weather predictions, it is the perfect time to be Italian. Conjure up a pot of meatballs and sauce and try my mother’s secret ingredient - spearmint. If you don’t have any dried mint (I recommended drying it in a summer blog) then add it to your horticultural diary under ‘Herbs to grow next spring’. You do want to contain it because it can take over your garden.
This week’s gardening blog ends with an inspirational quote from Hippocrates. “Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food.” For Italians, life revolves around food and family. But for those who appreciate a bit of sarcasm as we head into the weekend, here is one from Archie Bunker. “A four-letter Italian word for good-bye...BANG.” Ciao!
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