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Ragu alla Bolognese


I went to a wedding recently, and the man giving the homily said this thing that I wrote down, he said, "Tell each other the story of being someone who has been loved well." 

Or something like that. 
And I thought, what a beautiful thing. 
The story of someone who has been loved well. 


I've been thinking a lot about marriage recently, maybe because all of a sudden, people my age and a little older are starting to get married, and I’m seeing all these newlywed people pop up in my facebook feed, and also in my real life. 
Some of them are even having babies. 
And it's all so magical and wonderful, but at the same time-- 

what. 

I mean. 

What. 

And the sort of quiet realization that the people you meet and maybe wake up next to and spend your minutes and hours and days with, does it all suddenly matter more? Is this the big leagues of life? Has it always been the big leagues and I just haven’t been paying attention???

It all suddenly seems much, much more real. 

The story of someone who has been loved well. 

In addition to being recently obsessed with the whole concept of marriage, I've also been obsessed with recipes that are stupifyingly simple. Because painfully and perfectly simple things are usually the best. So fuck crazy spices, fuck elaborate and trendy and especially fuck everything to do with quinoa. (I keep trying and I keep wishing and the supposed actual taste-goodness of quinoa keeps not happening.) 


But this ragu. 
This humble meat sauce with pasta. 
This is it. 
Like most painfully perfect simple things, it takes time and a little heartache and attention and also confidence. Because you have to be gentle with it, and you have stir it for forever, and you brown everything, and let juices evaporate, and then, most importantly, you let it simmer for a million years.
By the end of making this ragu, you’re basically in a relationship with it. 
And that’s okay. 

Baby, I’m wishing you good things. 
But more than that, I hope you know that you already own the story of being someone who “has been loved well.” 
You are already that person. 
You really are. 
But if you feel like maybe you need a little boost of confidence, then make this ragu.  
You’ll like it so much, you’ll wanna put a ring on it. 



I love you. 



Ragu alla Bolognese 
via TheWednesdayChef.com and her book My Berlin Kitchen 

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large yellow onion, finely minced
2 large carrots, finely minced (you want roughly equal amounts of minced onion and carrot)
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1/2 cup red wine (open a fresh bottle and drink the rest with dinner)
1 28-ounce can peeled San Marzano tomatoes, pureed
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

1) Put the oil and butter in a large cast-iron pot over medium heat, to melt the butter. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for about 7 minutes, until the onion is well cooked. Do not let it take on any color. Add the minced carrots and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, stirring now and then.

2) Add the ground meat to the pot, and using a wooden spoon, stir and chop up the meat so that it cooks and breaks down into uniformly tiny pieces. Raise the heat to medium-high or even high as you do this. It takes a good amount of elbow grease and a little bit of time. Continue to stir and cook until the meat is no longer pink (at no point, however, should the meat be browning). There will be liquid at the bottom of the pan. Continue to cook until that liquid has mostly evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes.

3) Add the wine and stir well to combine. Simmer until the wine has mostly evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes.

4) Add the pureed tomatoes and the salt and stir well to combine. The sauce will come to a simmer almost instantly. Lower the heat to the lowest possible setting, put the lid on the pot, and let the sauce simmer for as long as you possibly can, stirring it occasionally. Seven hours would be wonderful, 5 hours is pretty good, but any less than 3 and you're really missing out. The longer you cook the sauce, the richer and more flavorful it will get. At some point in the cooking process, the fat will separate from the sauce and float at the top, so just give the sauce a good stir every so often to reincorporate the fat.

5) At the end of the cooking time, taste for seasoning and add more salt, if needed. Then serve tossed with pasta or use in a classic lasagne (this recipe makes enough for a 9 x 13-inch pan).

Turkish Coffee

Usually, I know what the story is. 
Life seems to segment itself sort of naturally, and so you collect experiences and anecdotes that define what's going on, with you, for those weeks or months. Little stories of who you are and where you're at. 
I've been thinking about March. 
And what a weird, potent, transition month it is. 



The March right after I turned nineteen was magic. I wore a red dress that was too short and too tight. Everyone lived for the weekend. I stood up and tried to hug the wind through the sunroof of Alison's station wagon, like they do in that book, only I had never read that book. And we got drunk and went swimming at three am and afterwards I sat, shivering and braless in the diner that played heavy metal, and ate hashbrowns and migas, feeling so happy it hurt. 

The following March was dismal. My heart was fragile as an egg. In an effort to un-slump myself I drank buckets of coffee, ate doughnuts every day, and rode my bike late at night. It felt like nothing was ever going to happen, and actually, that March nothing did. 

This March is like Turkish coffee. 
It tastes a little wild. 
The first sip lasts for only an instant. 
But in that instant, the coffee tastes like an ancient pine tree, or a whole cabinet of spices that sit soft and dusty on your tongue before melting away. 

The other night, I picked up two random German boys on the street, and then Julián came and we ate sunflower seeds and drank cheap beer and went to look for a party on a rooftop terrace, but got lost instead and knocked on a random door and ended up in the apartment of a group of Americans from Maryland. An experience that pretty much sums up my story of March so far, i.e., strangeness and spontaneity, the instability that comes from moving constantly, and always running away from and also sitting with, a specific deep kind of loneliness. 
That is what March feels like. 

I want to wring a story from all this randomness, and give it to you with a cup of Turkish coffee. 
And we'd taste the ancient trees and the dusty spices, but only for a second, and you would maybe smile, maybe cry while I told you the distilled version of this March, the one with a beginning, middle and end. 
But I can't. 
Because March isn't over yet. 

I love you. 
I love you. 
I love you. 

Xoxo