Monday Meal Review: Vatican City

Are there recipes of loved ones long since gone that you continue to make?

I asked this question on our Facebook page the other day, and several of you shared touching comments about your family recipes . Valerie keeps her family recipes in a box. Whenever she sees the handwriting of her loved ones who’ve since passed, she says it feels like a “tap on the shoulder.” But, for some of you, it goes beyond the recipes. Theresa says she still uses her husband’s grandmother’s canning supplies. How wonderful it must be to eat jellies out of the same jars grandma did!

This week, when we made Cousin Alfred’s meat sauce for the Vatican City, I felt like I could taste the past. Like I was closer to him and those memories of standing in his kitchen, watching him cook. I also felt like I could taste my heritage, even though I’ve never been to Italy, let alone Vatican City.

And we were fortunate enough to share the meal with our neighbors. Our neighbors of Scottish and German descent.

This much I know: our country is as much a stirring pot as it is a melting pot. We interact, brush up against, swirl into, each other’s cultures all the time.

What is your heritage, and how do you keep it alive?


The Pope’s Fettuccine | Fettuccine alla papalina [Recipe]

What I loved most about this dish:

Forget the pomp and circumstance; for a fancy pasta dish invented for a pope, this really is quite straightforward to make. The Parmesan melts from the heat of the pasta, the egg sets, and the result is  a cheesy sauce punctuated by bits of proscuitto and cracked pepper.

A fun tip I learned: you can make the cheese and egg mixture ahead of time, cover with saran and refrigerate until needed. A nice trick if you’re making this for a small dinner party. Just set it out on the counter while the pasta boils (about fifteen minutes) to take the chill off so it thickens properly

What I loved least about this dish:


Cousin Alfred’s Meat Sauce [Recipe]

What I loved most about this dish:

Our neighbor said this sauce was the ‘best thing that ever happened to him.’  Cousin Alfred knew what he was doing: the depth of flavor in this meat sauce is unreal. There’s umami, from the the mushrooms, good ol’ fashioned browned bits from the meat and onion, and so much more. Yes, it makes a big batch, but freeze or the leftovers in dinner-sized portions. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

What I loved least about this dish:

Nothing. I’d make it again in a heartbeat.


  1. elisa waller says

    hey.. first of all DOUBLE YUM…….and what a nice shirt..hahaha I love it..brought a tear to my eye…memories of amanda in her young artistic mind…those shirts are so awesome…fun meal…you go girl!

  2. annaclarice says

    My mother (who passed away in 1979) keeps track of me through cooking…mainly her cookbook. A few years after she died I wanted to make Spritz cookies for Christmas so I called my dad to see if he had her cookbook handy. He told me where to find it and I went to his house, went to the bookshelf, took the old Betty Crocker cookbook off the shelf and noticed a bookmark in it. I opened the book to that page and there was a handwritten note from my mom that said “all the recipes on this page should work for you. Love Mom. P.S. Don’t take my cookbook!”. That note was on the page for Spritz cookies!

    Some years later, after my dad passed away and I sold his house. I went to look for that cookbook on my shelf and realized it wasn’t there. Oh no! I must have left it at the house and it was sold at the estate sale. I was devastated.

    About 2 years later I was visiting my friend’s used bookstore and I noticed an old Betty Crocker cookbook sitting on the front desk. I picked it up and looked at and suddenly realized it was MY MOM’s cookbooks! It had her writing and my scribbles on the cover. When I asked where he had gotten the book he told me that someone had just come in an hour or so earlier and sold it to him with some other books.

    Needless to say, that book went home with me. It has a place of honor where my mom can always keep an eye me!

    • aunty eileen says

      Thanks for sharing your true miracle story, ‘annaclarice. I love true miracle stories… something important and good happening when it has just about no ‘chance’ of happening. I know real miracles happen at times. I still have my very old first cookbook… it is a Betty Crocker cookbook too. A few of my favorite recipes are in that book.

      Wonderful Sasha… as usual!

  3. Brian Schwartz says

    This just might be the best menu in history. Let me just assure you that it is appropriate for the Vatican. The Pope’s Fettucine obviously is. As for the tomato sauce, first of all this kind of complex tomato sauce is very popular in Rome. More important… the very first recipe for tomato sauce for pasta was published in Rome around 1790. Also at that time the meat-based sauce we call Spaghetti Bolognese was being invented in Bologna. At that time, both Rome and Bologna were part of the Vatican!! It was called the Papal States in those days.

  4. Those dishes look incredible! I want to make cousin Alfred’s Meat Sauce now! Italy and Vatican City are so high on my travel list right now that this week was incredible timing. As for my heritage I’m pretty much a mutt! lol- we are British, Irish, Native American (Blackfoot), and German. And I definitely have favorite foods from each! Well, except the Black Foot- I don’t know that I’ve ever looked that deeply into it before!

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