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Sauce Day

(by Cherie Kephart)

When I was growing up in sunny West Los Angeles, one of the best days in my house was Sauce Day. The recipe for the marinara or meat sauce came from my Sicilian great-grandmother, and I loved watching my mom making a giant batch.

My mom, who spent most of her life in L.A., was unlike her Sicilian ancestors in many ways—not the usual fiery, temperamental persona you may think of. She was calm, kind, and funny, but when it came to cooking, the heated side of her lineage showed. I loved spending time with her in the kitchen. It was our way of bonding, giggling, sharing family secrets, and creating something meaningful together. It was our tradition at any family gathering to congregate in the kitchen, share stories, and cook together, tasting the food as it simmered, adding more of this or a little bit of that. Cooking was important, done with heart, and taken seriously.

So when it came to her sauce, I would shadow my mom’s every move, helping her any time I could, learning the ways of my ancestors. The process often started early in the morning, when I’d hear a symphony of clanking, chopping, and sizzling come from the kitchen. Sleepily stumbling into the heart of the house, I’d see the tan Crockpot and an assortmen