How do you make your Bolognese Sauce? This is probably the oldest spaghetti sauce Filipinos are familiar with. You might be wondering why I have that title on this post. Its a tribute to a beloved aunt who is, undoubtedly, the most colorful and vibrant among the sisters. She had tons of bangles, baubles and beads, not to mention the real thing. Every time I hear that song it never fails to remind me of her.
As a kid, my now Australia-based Tita Mameng del Fierro made the best Bolognese Sauce. She’s a home economics graduate from UST and is really the best cook among my mom’s sisters. She’s the total homemaker and was very much into sewing, crocheting, crafts, cooking, gardening and even cleaning. Her parties were so well-planned I always looked forward to them. Her table was beautifully spruced up and the food always predictably good. The best part of all was when she stood at the top of the stairs with a can of coins. That was our signal to position ourselves because she’d throw the coins at us and we kids would scramble for every centavo.
Tita Mameng also supplied the whole family with hand-embroidered throw pillow covers and pillow covers with the sweetest designs she copied from children’s coloring books, magazines and sewing books. She also came up with her own designs, with swirls and twirls and pretty jewel colors. In fact, Tita Mameng used to be a linens supplier for the now defunct COD Department Store in Cubao. She eventually gave it up because the demand grew to a point where she had to expand. But Tita Mameng still had her household to run and wanted to keep it a home-based business. So she quit.
My first cousins will all probably remember the paper mache, faux jewel-encrusted mirrors our parents got as a gift from Tita Mameng. It wasn’t just square or oval mirrors too…but flower-shaped plywood-backed with several mirrors glued on it. I believe my mom’s is still around somewhere at home. Then there were the fruitcakes at Christmas. So dark, and dense and drunk with brandy. She’d get started on her fruitcakes in October so they would be properly ripe by Christmas. Of course, as a child you didn’t appreciate it. But now that our lives are lived in different continents, you miss it so your heart aches at Christmas when you get those far inferior fruitcakes.
Now in her 80’s, Tita Mameng likes to travel with her husband. Last year, they were in Morrocco and Europe. A few years ago, they went to Tasmania. Their regular jaunts are Manila and Kuala Lumpur for shopping and of course for visiting family. It was so nice to talk to her last time I was home. She called my mom to say hello when we were all there. Living with cancer for over five years now, she’s still bright and cheerful…just the way she’s always been. I know she’s blessed because of this attitude she has and because she has always been so generous with herself, without expecting anything in return.
About the Bolognese pictured here, it’s my own version which is deliberately not too saucy. But it packs a lot of punch and flavor with some sweet red wine and canned Italian tomatoes. For some reason, canned tomatoes are better than fresh tomatoes for spaghetti, definitely more flavorful. I also like a lot of freshly grated, stinky parmesan cheese to top my spaghetti and a sprinkiling of extra virgin olive oil on my noodles right after draining – no rinsing please. Those two ingredients after the cooking give your dish so much more flavor.