Step 1: Call your mom and ask her for her pasta sauce recipe.
Set aside five to forty-five minutes for this step, as she will most likely complain to you about the weather, your father, and someone who wronged her in Italy in 1961 before she gets to the recipe. When you say, “I have to go, can you give me the recipe?” she’ll reply, “See, you never have time for me,” and then she’ll spend another hour reminding you that she’s a good mother.
Step 2: Collect the ingredients.
A 28-ounce can of whole San Marzano tomatoes that your mom slipped into your luggage the last time you visited
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil from a large oil can your mom packed in your luggage the last time you visited
7 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced, that your mom slipped into your luggage the last time you visited
1 large fresh basil sprig from the basil plant your mom slipped into your luggage the last time you visited (unpacking all your laundry, again)
1 teaspoon salt
1 lifetime of guilt and shame
Step 3: Heat oil in large skillet over low heat; add the garlic and sauté until tender, like the patch of hair on your upper lip that’s been lasered away multiple times but keeps growing because it can’t erase its heritage.
Step 4: Add the tomatoes, basil and salt. Crush tomatoes with a spoon, like your mom crushed your teenage dreams of having friends sit on a couch without plastic. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally. Let the gravy cook for fifteen to twenty minutes, using this time to maniacally clean your kitchen just as her mother maniacally cleaned the kitchen while the rest of the family enjoyed Christmas dinner. Reconnect with the trauma of yelling, “Mommy, please sit down and eat!” and her answering: “What, do you think the dishwasher is going to clean itself?”
When you’re done wiping down the counter, be sure to repeatedly let your partner/kids/roommates/dog/houseplants know that you not only cooked but cleaned today, until they praise your martyrdom. Put that rag in your robe pocket, as you’re bound to need it again soon.
Step 5: Pour the sauce over the pasta your mother slipped into your luggage the last time she visited. Before serving, take a picture and text your mom along with the pasta emoji, Italian flag emoji, and heart eyes emoji. Eagerly awaiting her approval.
Step 6: Answer your mother’s phone call asking how to open a picture text, again. Allow extra time for this step, as her mother will probably stop listening to her instructions and start talking shit about her cousin to the ugly husband who had the nerve to give her niece only a hundred dollars for her First Communion when his mother gave him here daughter one hundred and fifty dollars.
Step 7: After your mom finally opens the photo, let her critique the dish. (Examples include: “pasta looks overcooked”, “pasta doesn’t look cooked enough”, “that’s too much pasta, you’re going to get fat”, “that’s not enough pasta, you’re going to get too fat.”) and “you didn’t clean the counter well enough”). After her extensive critique, she will give a single compliment on your cooking which will somehow turn into a compliment on her cooking.
Step 8: Take a bite of your pasta, which is now cold because you spent a lot of time on the phone with your mother and then with your brother talking about your mother.
Step 9: Order Thai food. ♦