In every culture across the world, food brings people together.
When you sit down to eat dinner, more often than not you find yourself sitting with people you love. Food provides a common ground for us to meet at, for us to share our thoughts and feelings, and for us to simply be together.
This act of coming together for food—be it for holiday meals or nightly dinners—imprints upon us some of our fondest memories. For this reason and many others, food is deeply rooted in memory.
Joy, plain and simple, is another reason food sticks in our memories. The fact of the matter is that food makes us happy. We love to cook for others, we love to be cooked for, we love to chat and laugh and drink, and we love the feeling of a full stomach. Food is the most tangible element in our lives that actually provides life itself. Food is health, desire, and indulgence. Food is a break from everything else in our lives that weighs us down.
Another reason is tradition. Some of my favorite memories are from family dinners growing up. Thanksgiving and Christmas are two days that stand out most in my memory—seeing family you don’t often see and eating more than you can handle. Traditions provide a framework upon which we can mentally, emotionally, or otherwise build our lives, year to year. We count the days to certain events, like birthdays and anniversaries, and we celebrate with big meals shared with friends and family. Whether you’re at a fancy restaurant for your yearly meet-up with the cousins or sitting on the couch eating mac and cheese with your family, tradition allows us the luxuries of comfort, excitement, and stability.
Finally, we have our sense of smell. The human sense of smell is tied more directly to memory than any of our other senses, and smell is a huge part of tasting our food. Smell is the most powerful sense when it comes to conjuring memories from years and even decades ago. Everyone knows at least one smell that transports them back in time. One that washes away the world around you and brings you to somewhere else. Perhaps a place that no longer exists, perhaps a day long past. Or maybe even closer to someone you’ve been missing for a long, long time.
Slow down, take a breath. Close your eyes for a minute and try to remember that smell. Breathe it in deep. Maybe for you it’s your mom’s freshly baked cookies. Or the way home smells after you’ve been gone a long time. The smell of the mountains after rain. Your grandmother’s hugs.
For me, it’s spaghetti. My grandfather was an amazing cook. He was famous in his small town for all sorts of foods, from turkey soup to venison jerky. But the meal I loved most was his spaghetti. Every time I went to Papa’s house, he cooked it for me especially.
Unfortunately, we never did get the exact recipe before Papa passed away. My dad can make it pretty close, though. When I smell the sauce cooking on the stove, the experience is unreal. I’m no longer around. I close my eyes and I’m back at Papa’s house. He’s stirring the sauce and I’m looking up at him. He goes for a taste, nods, then dips the wooden spoon back in the pot and carefully leads a sip to my mouth.
Bacon and Tomato Pasta
If my dad found out I gave Papa’s spaghetti sauce recipe to the internet, he would kill me. On top of that, that sauce was absolutely packed with sodium, and that’s not exactly the kind of recipe we’re all about on Without Salt!
Instead, I’ll leave you with another of my favorite pasta recipes. This one doesn’t add any salt. Instead, it uses salt-free seasoning blends from Engage Organics to bring out amazing flavors in the sauce.
It may not conjure memories from the past, but it sure is good. Plus, there’s always room for new memories!
- 16 oz spaghetti pasta
- 1 pound thick-cut bacon, turkey bacon, or pancetta, chopped
- 3 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup red onion, diced
- ½ tsp. Engage Organics Mexi-Mix
- 1 Tbsp. Engage Organics Garlicsaltless
- 1 tsp. Engage Organics Original All-Purpose
- 2 tsp. Engage Organics Tuscany-Mix
- 2 cups Roma tomatoes, diced
- ¼ cup red wine
- ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan
- Fresh basil for garnish
In a large stock pot, boil 3 quarts of water, when boiling add pasta and cook until pasta is al dente.
In a large sauté pan over medium heat, add bacon and sauté until bacon is crispy. Remove bacon to drain on a paper towel lined plated and remove ¾ of bacon fat from the pan. Add extra virgin olive oil and onions, and cook until onions are translucent. Add Mexi-Mix and Garlicsaltless, cook for 2 minutes then add tomatoes. Sauté for 5 minutes, then deglaze with wine.
Drain pasta and add to the tomato mixture. Add Tuscany-Mix and bacon. Toss with Parmesan and fresh basil. Add Original All-Purpose to taste.
This is a great pasta recipe to whip up during the week for a nutritious quick meal. The antioxidants in the Tuscany-Mix pack a powerful punch against stress and free radicals.