Italian Grandmother’s Pasta Recipe

Main piece

“Onion, Garlic, Tomato, Olive Oil. You dice up the onions finely, mince the garlic. My grandmother didn’t put quantities down. Put some oil olive at the bottom of a pot, put the onions in first and cook until transparent. Then put the garlic in and cook until fragrant. Then add canned Marzano tomatoes. Cook down the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and Italian seasonings. Taste. If it needs more seasoning, put in more seasoning. And then put into a blender and blend to preferred consistency.”


Informant: “Even though, my grandmother lived in America, since she was Italian, at any holiday she would always have a pasta with her sauce on it for the holiday dinner.  To this day, I use this simple recipe often when making pasta dinners.”

The recipe can be made at any time. Its not necessarily a holiday meal, despite the informant’s grandma making it on every holiday. The recipe can likely be found online but the informant specifically learned it from her grandmother, who learned it from her mother. The informant grew up living in a split house with her grandmother so often could witness her cooking.


The informant is my mother. I learned of the recipe over a Facetime call in which I inquired after any folk knowledge she had.

My Thoughts:

This is a fairly simple Italian pasta sauce that has been passed down through a family. I think it shows some different aspects of Italian culture. The first one is the importance of family. This recipe was specifically passed down and taught by females of a specific family line. Also the environment in which the recipe was often cooked, meaning holiday dinners, indicates a highly social family that is close-knit and spends at least holidays commonly together. Another aspect of Italian culture that might be shown is the importance of certain foods, in this case a pasta sauce. Considering it was always made at special events, including all holidays, many of which usually have their own specific cuisine that one is supposed to make, its possible that this meal was seen as a delicacy or important in indicating the celebratory nature of the event in which it was being eaten.