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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Out Of The Closet

So, we all keep secrets hidden in our closets with  the doors firmly shut and locked.   Sometimes the doors fling open and sometimes they remain bolted shut.  From the time I was a kid, into my teenage years, through college,  and up until now I have always loved and craved SpaghettiOs. Yep, SpaghettiOs.  Those happy looking cans of pasta circles in a cheese and tomato sauce.There you have it.  Outed. I have not been dragged out of the food closet by lurking food police.  I have happily and unapologetically flung my food closet door wide open and stepped out into the light of day!  It was inevitable.
I can't help it. I crave that taste.  That tinny cheesy tomato pasta flavor. SpaghettiOs were introduced in 1965 and  were marketed as a "less messy" spaghetti  option for kids.  My father must have fallen for the convenience of easy open canned pasta while  I guess I simply fell for the taste; hook, line, and sinker.

I usually eat them straight from the can with a spoon. When a can of SpaghettiOs is first opened, the pasta circles are compacted toward the bottom of the can and a juicy red gooey sauce is afloat on top.  That  top sauce is what always drew me in.  Must be why I first started eating them from the can, to taste the red goo. A few bites of sauce, a quick stir, an empty can. Done. 

I love how the cheesy tomato sauce is a perfect blend and ratio of cheese to tomato. Tomato Puree [water, tomato paste],  Enriched Macaroni Product [wheat flour, niacin, riboflavin, folic acid], and Cheddar Cheese [cultured milk, salt, enzymes, calcium chloride]. And a bunch of other things. The ratio, spot on. Carrot extract is also part of the blend which likens it to sauce bolognaise, sort of. Well, that might be a stretch.

Granted, the pasta is not al dente.  Some might even deem it mushy. 

I typically go for the original version of SpaghettiOs. They now come shaped like alphabet letters, race cars, ravilolis, and Disney princesses. Can't tolerate the off-shoots. They are called SpaghettiO's for a reason.  O shaped for less mess! Some even have tiny little fake hot dogs and meatballs.
I won't even dignify the store brands with mention.

I had a can of SpaghettiOs for lunch today.  I gave into civility and ate my Os  from a pasta bowl and not from the can. I even warmed it up and went up-town with the tiny fake meatball version.

I did commit SpaghettiOs heresy by topping it with reggiano cheese, sea salt, basil, and a sprinkle of fresh parsley.  Rule breaker.

It was everything I knew it would be. Cheesy and saucy and soft. Perhaps it was even better all dolled up like a cheap whore with the bright grassy notes of parsley and the salty nutty edge of reggiano cheese.
I paired it with an arugula salad radicchio bowl, lightly dressed in a vinaigrette as an acidic cleanser to the canned pasta.  Delicious.
Even extravagantly adorned, it was still a can of SpaghettiOs.  My old friend in a happy labeled can with familiar taste and mouthfeel.

Out of the closet. 

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