The cover story for this month's issue of Saveur magazine is dedicated to the quest for the perfect Ragu sauce in Bologna, Italy. There are numerous recipes for delicious sounding, slow-cooked, authentic Italian Ragu dishes - most taking about 3 hours or more to prepare. The very thought of those rich and meaty sauces over fresh-made pasta is enough to make my mouth water in anticipation. While reading the article I started trying to mentally schedule a day when I could devote the 3 to 4 hours needed to make the perfect saucy pasta dish for friends and family to enjoy. After a few minutes of contemplation over the scheduling manipulations that would be required to free up the 4 hours of cooking time needed for my pasta feast, I was forced to admit scheduling defeat. (Scheduling is so hard when you are trying to do it all from Career Woman, to Family Manager to Domestic Goddess!) So maybe I will have to leave the creation of the perfect home-made pasta feast in the capable hands of one of the local Italian restaurants (at least for now), where my only time requirement will be the hour or so to sit and enjoy dinner.
There was another interesting shorter article in Saveur this month, titled "Mother's Little Helper". Deputy Editor, Dana Bowen, talked about her mother, a second generation Italian-American woman, and her surreptiticious use of Ragu-brand pasta sauce as a basis for her own legendary "homemade" Italian sauces. Dana even mentioned that if family and friends were coming over for dinner her mother took great care to throw the store bought sauce jars away in the outside trash cans so that no one would spot the confederates to a true "homemade" meal in the kitchen trash. I wonder if Dana realizes that while her mother was bring old world traditions over to America she was also modifying those traditions to work in an increasingly fast pace society. Her mom's creative uses for store bought pasta sauces as a basis for her own variety of Italian dishes made her an early adopter of the semi-homemade cooking trend which is all the rage in American kitchens today.
Today's cooks are more sophisticated in their tastes but less proficient in their cooking skills than past generations. What they want is slow cooked authentic deliciousness when they dine out and simple dinner solutions that taste homemade for busy meals at home. If you want to appeal to the masses, simple recipes using pre-made ingredients that generate healthy interesting meals in a hurry are just the ticket. Be sure to mix it up with an interesting selection of ethnic dishes as well as simple versions of familiar classics for the broadest reach on usage occasions and the widest appeal to consumers.