A rose, by any other name … might just be a Hibiscus. Or a Portulaca grandiflora! Such alternate names for vittles can be just as confusing.
Is it macaroni? Or pasta?
The answer all depends on whether you’re watching The Sopranos or The Brady Bunch.
Macaroni is technically … pasta made from durum wheat. Pasta is technically … made from durum wheat. In the U.S., we typically use macaroni to describe the shape — undoubtedly a result of that little blue box from Kraft that so many of us grew up on.
Unless you’re asking someone from New Jersey, where spaghetti & meatballs is commonly referred to as macaroni and Sunday gravy. More on that in a minute.
Is it a pizza? Or a pie?
My wife once called a local (east Texas) pizzeria and ordered two pies — one plain and the other with pepperoni and extra sauce. The response from the young lady on the phone: “Ma’am, we don’t sell pies. We are a pizza shop.”
Apparently, the moon hadn’t hit her eye like a big pizza pie. Rather, she was singing a song of sixpence.
Accepted definitions for pie are almost boundless — sweet pies; savory pies; pot pies; hand pies; pizza pies; and the list goes on… That said, ordering a pepperoni pie at a pizza shop shouldn’t exactly be an enigma to the counter help.
Did you know? Italian lawmakers in 2004 adopted a standard for Neapolitan pizza. Among other rules, Neapolitan pizza may not be called such unless it is round; no more than 14 inches in diameter and no thicker than 0.1 inches in the middle.
Hoagies, Subs and Grinders
And, lest we forget the hero…
A certain national chain aims to change what everyone calls the sandwich served on the six-inch roll. Such an accomplishment would make ordering a little easier for the New Yorker visiting a Maine sandwich shop. But is such homogenization really necessary?
The submarine is the most widely used name for a sandwich of cold cuts, lettuce and such on a long roll. Legend has it that the name came from a New Jersey grocer in the early 20th century and is named for the underwater craft. The hoagie was born about the same time, right down the road in Philadelphia. The name reportedly evolved from the Hog Island sandwich. The grinder, a product of New England, has several legends attached to it. My favorite is the one crediting the hard bread requiring one to grind teeth. And then there’s the hero. Word has it that a journalist popularized the name. Another legend claims that the name is a take-off of the gyro.
Throw in the po’ boy (New Orleans), bomber (upstate NY) or the torpedo (northeast) and you still end up with the same fun sandwich.
Sauce? Or gravy?
During my early days in talk radio, an on-air debate about sauce vs. gravy was among the most popular shows I experienced. And our program was aired in the South, where gravy is traditionally made with meat drippings, flour and liquid.
I was raised on the flour-and-milk and sawmill gravy types, so it is no secret where I stood at the time.
Then, I married a Yankee.
Gravy, where my (New York-born) wife comes from is a whole different ballgame involving tomatoes, Italian sausages and a lot of garlic and basil. Yep. It’s what we Southerners grew up calling sauce.
All I can (now) say is that both are delicious and that everyone is right.
Tomato Gravy in the South is an entirely different concoction that the stuff served on Sundays in the Northeast. Both have tomatoes, but the similarities stop there as the southern version is flour-thickened. My tomato gravy is probably closer to the northeast version, since it’s thickened by simply reducing. But it’s served southern style.
Sun-dried Tomato Gravy
- 1½ cups – Beef stock
- 3 TB – Tomato paste
- 2 TB – Sun Dried Tomatoes, chopped
- 1 TB – Soy sauce
- 2 tsp – Dried Oregano
- 1 tsp – Black pepper
- 2 – Garlic cloves, minced
- 1 TB – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- In a saucepan over medium-high heat, saute garlic cloves in olive oil until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Combine remainder of ingredients and add to saucepan, stirring regularly. Mixture should come to a light boil within about 3-4 minutes.
- Cook another 2-3 minutes after it comes to the light boil, or until gravy is slightly reduced and thickened.
- Serve over meatloaf, mashed potatoes, rice, pasta — or macaroni.