Eons ago, it feels like, I worked at a Fish restaurant called Fishland. In the kitchen, sometimes my duties were to prep before we opened. While the cooks prepped the chicken for landlubbers, I made homemade tarter sauce, which was simply equal amounts of relish and mayonnaise. We had two dishwashers from Jamaica. They exclaimed, when the cooks threw out the chicken bones, skin, fat, and innards, “Why are you throwing out half the chicken? That’s all good!” I thought, but its just the bones, icky innards and everyone knows that the skin and fat are bad for you. All these years later, here I am, learning that we were wrong and they were right.
Interesting to me, in the early 90’s I worked with a nurse who’s daughter was in the Peace Corp in Africa (I don’t remember where). Alice would go to Africa for a month every year to be with her daughter. She told us about an odd (to all of us) cultural situation her first time visiting this place in Africa. Out to the best restaurant in the area, Alice ordered Filet Mignon, which turned out to be the cheapest cut of meat on the menu, because, the more fat was in it, the more it was worth and the better it was, Filet Mignon is one of the leanest cuts.
My grandmother was from Calabria, Italy, she immigrated through Ellis Island around 1920 to Worcester, MA. This was her tomato sauce or as my father called it, gravy not sauce.
- 2-28 oz can tomatoes, 4 cans tomato paste, 8 cans water
- Chopped garlic and fresh parsley
- Olive oil to lightly fry garlic before adding the other ingredients (fat)
- Oregano, basil, crushed red pepper, and bay leaves, salt and pepper
- Parmesan cheese (preferably Reggiano)
Meatballs (she didn’t brown them, just dropped them in) (fat)
- 1 lb ground pork (fat)
- 1 lb fatty hamburger (fat)
- 2 eggs (fat)
- fresh parsley, garlic and Parmesan cheese (fat)
- 1 tbsp fennel seed
- Bread crumbs or soaked and torn up stale bread, the same volume as the ground meat
- salt and pepper
Italian sausage (these would’ve been handmade from D’errico’s Market) browned drain the fat. (fat)
Pig Skin Braciole: Stuffed with Parmesan cheese, garlic, parsley, salt and pepper, rolled up and tied with string. We kids fought over this, much like the salt pork in homemade baked beans. (fat)
Simmer, uncovered four to six hours, stirring occasionally. Serve with fresh Italian bread and more Parmesan cheese.
My mother made this every Sunday for my father. My grandmother taught her, so she could cook it. My mother was Irish, she loved my father’s mother. I never got to know her, I have vague memories of her, she died when I was five years old. We called her Nonny. Note all the (fat) in this. My father showed me a slice of Capicola, he called it “Gabagool”, he pointed out the ribbed fat. This was from D’errico’s, so it had huge slabs of fat through it. He explained to me, that the more fat, the better it is.
That’s what my father taught me, that and that organ meat was everyone’s favorites in the family as children. Then society taught me this:
This is the Dr. Wahls pyramid that I am learning to follow:
In her book she has three levels of diet. Wahls, Wahls Paleo and Wahls Paleo Plus. The last listed is a Nutritional Ketosis or Hunter Gatherer diet. Each one has its own pyramid. In each chapter is a wealth of research, and information about each food and its benefits along with the science of each level and why this heals more than that. Most important to note is that this in no way takes the place of the book. I wouldn’t be able to adequately follow this diet without the book, which is inexpensive to purchase on Amazon. It is a reference guide that I turn to over and over and have had to reread to completely understand all these new/old concepts, depending on how you want to look at it.
My Dad would’ve loved this diet, except for the no Italian bread, no cheese and no “macaroni” part. I get homesick sometimes, lately I’m talking a lot about Massachusetts and thinking about my family. Most are long gone. Ugh, a blue note. I don’t want to end in a downer. Whenever I share my grandmother’s sauce, I honor her memory and I relive half my life eating that sauce. I could have it on the Wahls Protocol. I have to omit the cheese and I would need to substitute the bread crumbs for maybe ground hemp hearts, or ground almonds, or ground flax seed. Something like that. On Wahls other two levels, gluten free bread is a suitable substitute. And on level’s I and II, gluten free pasta is okay, level III, no pasta. But, this sauce is so good, you don’t need it.
Picture of my father in the late 1930’s around four or five years old.
Wahls food pyramid taken from my copy of The Wahls Protocol “How I Beat Progressive MS Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine by Terry Wahls, M.D.