This Pasta Has Been My Escape Since 1967

In 1967, when we started smoking too much pot, my best buddy was a guy named Chuck. We (in the style of many others) would head to his bedroom most nights, stuff a towel under the door, put on The Doors or whatever (that’s another story), light up, and pretend his mother didn’t know what we were doing.

This is really about Chuck’s mother—Constance—who was Italian. A wonderful, warm woman, a fabulous cook but also shy … she would cook food and leave it for us. (Maybe she wasn’t shy; maybe she wanted no part of us! Who could blame her?) Among her specialties was “sauce,” or what some people called “gravy.” This was your basic slow-cooked tomato sauce, usually with meat. I can’t tell you anything else about how Constance made her sauce, because all I wanted to do was … well, not cook, at that point. (That began, for me, the following year.)

So there were ball-jar quarts of Constance’s sauce in the fridge. And, if Constance wasn’t home, Chuck and I would fire up, stumble into the kitchen, and he would do his masterpiece:

Ingredients: One pound of pasta; one pound of mozz; one quart of sauce.
Method: Cook pasta, chop mozz, drain pasta, toss with chopped mozz and warmed-up sauce. (Sometimes we’d toss with cold sauce; the mozz didn’t melt as well but we could inhale the pasta faster.)

That’s four pounds of food. (The pasta absorbs about its weight in water, and a quart weighs about a pound.) We’d always finish the whole thing.

So, we had a ball of mozz in the fridge the other day that was not getting any better and we had, as we mostly do these days, a need for lunch.

I made Chuck’s pasta, though sans cannabis and sans Constance’s sauce. (I also baked the whole thing for a little while. So: baked ziti.) In an indication of how insane pot-inspired appetite can be, we ate about a third of the dish, which seems about right.

It made me both happy and sad: Chuck died last year.


Chuck's recipe is in the text above, and here are a bunch more. Because if there were ever a time to seek comfort in carbs, it's probably now.


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Questions, comments, brilliant suggestions? Just want to share the recipe for your grandma's potato salad, or your mom's meatloaf, or your uncle Drew's three-day 100-percent rye loaf (yes, please)? Don't hesitate to reach out anytime.