Rosa’s perfect meat sauce for pasta, the best Italian pasta sauce I have ever tasted.
This post is dedicated to Rosa, who used to write the blog For the Love of Italian Cooking. Sadly, Rosa passed away at the beginning of this month, leaving three small children behind and a lot of people who will miss her dearly.
Including me, I have known Rosa for less than two years, but our connection during this time has been strong. We’ve never actually met in person, although we had planned to visit each other in the near future, but we wrote very loooooong emails regularly, chatted on What’s app, visited each others blogs, recommending recipes and cookbooks to each other and so on.
A few weeks ago, on a Saturday evening, I was just checking my Facebook notifications and suddenly I had a large photo of Rosa in front of my eyes. I was used to seeing her posts regularly, she had many pictures of her sweet boys on Facebook and I had often taken the time to Like a picture or to look through her other photo albums. I knew the picture and just wanted to move on, but then suddenly the text caught my eye, three large letters at the beginning: RIP.
I didn’t even realized at first what that meant, English is not my mother language and I needed a moment to realize what the abbreviation might stand for. The second thought was that somebody in her family might have passed away and that she wrote that RIP herself for somebody else. But then I read on and I realized that it was Rosa that had passed away.
I was so shocked I couldn’t stop shaking for half an hour, I think. I hastily read all the messages that people left on her Facebook page and was horrified to find out about the way she died, she was killed in an act of domestic violence by her own husband, who then apparently has killed himself. I do not know the details, I don’t even really want to know them, the truth is terrible enough as it is, I just cannot stop thinking about Rosa and about her children, who now have to face life with this burden upon them.
I thought a lot about Rosa during the past weeks, I have visited her blog and her Facebook page more than I have done it in all the years we have known each other before. She was such a warm and wonderful person, so full of affection even for people she only knew through the computer, so to say, and I think, when she was so full of trust in me, so full of affection for somebody she hadn’t even really met, how was she for the people in her family, in her life?
I read the words people left on Facebook, especially those written by her cousin and they have only confirmed everything I thought I knew about Rosa, about her warmth, her good heart, her openness toward other people, her willingness to love them, to include them in her life, to have trust in them, even if she had actually just met them. And then, everybody talked about her love for cooking, for indulging the people she loved with great food.
I did not know her long, but I knew so much about her family, about her work, about the troubles in her life, about the difficulties she had with her husband. We talked about it and I did my best to support her with words, but I have never realized that things were quite as bad. I suppose one never does, until it is too late. I am left with the feeling that maybe I could have done something more to help, even if I have no idea what I could have done, we were both in Germany, but so far away that an actual meeting had to be carefully planned.
I have been thinking a lot about domestic abuse and about violence against women as well lately. This has always been a sensitive issue for me, I grew up in a family where many men were violent, some only in words, but some physically as well. I was not physically abused myself, but I know a lot especially about emotional abuse that my grandmother had to put up with, about physical abuse that other women in my family had faced.
Not to mention all the other children I knew who talked about getting beaten regularly or about their mothers getting beaten regularly, it was not even such a big thing for us children to talk about such things, we felt them as if they were normal somehow.
This has influenced my emotional development as well, I was afraid of men when growing up and during my teenage years, I could not talk to men at all and after all these years and after having met my wonderful husband and the normal men in his family and his normal friends, I am still slightly uncomfortable around men. I cannot stand being alone with men I don’t know well, all the doctors I see are female (if I can help it), and I almost panic if I go for a walk in the fields around here and I see a man coming my way. It is crazy, I know it, but I cannot help it and I know where that comes from.
Domestic violence, which occurs mostly as violence against women or children is still an issue even in the 21st century, even in countries like Germany, the UK or the USA, countries which put a lot of emphasis on gender equality, on human rights, children and women rights.
According to the World Health Organization “almost one third (30%) of women who have been in a relationship report that they have experienced some form of physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner in their lifetime”. And “globally, as many as 38% of murders of women are committed by a male intimate partner”.
Terrible facts and the most terrible thing is that although things are happening, things are not happening fast enough, each day there are more women, girls, boys suffering in an abusive family environment, everywhere in this world.
Rosa’s Ultimate Homemade Meat Sauce for Pasta
This recipe was posted by Rosa in September 2016 under the name of Ultimate Southern-Style Italian Meat Sauce. I followed her recipe to the letter, I did not change a single thing, I wanted it to taste exactly as if Rosa has cooked it for us. And it was perfect, by far the best meat pasta sauce recipe I have ever made.
Rosa had the recipe from her nonna Rosa, who lived in Calabria, Italy. This is what Rosa said about this sauce: “What makes this sauce Southern style is that in Calabria, meat is always simmered in an abundance of pureed tomato. This is how I remember my mom and nonna Rosa preparing their sauces. A typical Northern sauce starts with a soffrito (a mixture of finely chopped/grated onion, carrot and celery), but in this recipe, finely diced onion is gently sauteed in olive oil. In my parents’ village, it was custom not to mix onions and garlic together in a tomato sauce (for some unknown reason), but I broke that tradition by adding both in mine.”
Rosa was an amazing cook, I have tried a few of her recipes and they were all amazing. Another one that I can totally recommend is the Tiramisu, a recipe that I have been making repeatedly ever since she emailed me her recipe.
She worked a lot and didn’t have much time to post regularly on her blog, which was pretty new as well, so unfortunately there are not many recipes she left behind, but I am determined to cook all those she posted, I really feel I need to. I cannot say if I will post all of them myself, but I will definitely cook them for my family and think of Rosa when I do that.
I am so sorry, Rosa, that this has happened to you and your children. Rest in peace, dear friend, I will always remember you!
- For the sauce:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion
- 500 g/ 1.1 lbs ground meat (half beef, half pork)
- 125 ml/ ½ cup milk
- 1 jar tomato puree (pasatta) 700-800 g/ 24 oz
- 2 whole basil leaves
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- salt and pepper
- For the flavoring:
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 basil leaves
- 1 garlic clove
- pasta or gnocchi and Parmesan for serving
Heat the oil in a large skillet. Fry the finely chopped onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the ground meat and break the lumps with a wooden spoon. Turn the heat high, add the milk and stir until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Add the tomato puree. Give about 125 ml/ ½ cup water to the jar of pasatta, shake to clean the tomato sauce from the walls of the jar and give the water to the pot. Add the whole basil leaves, minced garlic, tomato paste and some salt and pepper.
Bring the sauce to a boil, turn the heat down to medium-low, cover with a lid leaving it a bit ajar and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid and continue simmering for about 10 minutes, until the sauce thickens slightly.
Add the remaining olive oil, minced garlic and torn basil leaves to the dish while the sauce is still hot and stir well. Cover and let stand for a few minutes to allow the flavors to mingle.
Serve with pasta or gnocchi and sprinkle with Parmesan before serving.
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