I’m not sure how I ever made a sports team. Soccer, lacrosse…end list. A serious lack in coordination, balance, and natural athletic ability surely must have been apparent at tryouts. It couldn’t have looked promising when I threw up on the sidewalk after the coaches made me run a mile. Or when I asked if practice could be cut a little shorter because I was “just so sleepy.” Seemed legitimate on my end.
Other than the sports part, I really enjoyed the team. I’d walk off the field feeling like I’d just done the stand-up routine of my life. Always called out for talking too much, laughing too loud, riding my lacrosse stick like a bull, using my soccer ball as a seat on the grass. I’d even get in trouble for making what sounded like animal sounds on the field. Whinnying like a horse, in particular. I think that one was just my laugh.
My main problem with team sports was the uniform. Plainly, that it never fit. Who the hell decided that lacrosse players should wear skirts? And could Umbros at least make wind pants that didn’t look like I’d just strapped royal blue Hefty’s to each leg? God.
Maybe my physical discomfort was apparent. The reason why I never started a game. I think it’s safe to say that if my entire team had broken their legs at once, and I was the remaining, able-bodied player, to make one final kick into a wide open goal, my coaches would’ve just called off the game and the season. Probably for the best, as I had a tendency to run away from the ball. Less liability when you don’t make any direct contact, I found.
Plus, I was never clear on the rules. Something something blah blah ‘forty five minutes until you can eat orange wedges.’ That’s what I heard anyway. I barely had enough Sprite in my water bottle to last that first half.
But who knows, maybe it’s positive to try things you’re not necessarily good at. Gives you some humility. Some grace. It’s a wonder that someone with almost no athletic ability can lose 135 lbs. Probably a beautiful testament to the power of just moving in any way you can. I ran, became a runner, quit it like a bad habit, started walking, kept walking. Now I’m striding the streets while listening to podcasts on astronomy 101 like I’m preparing for space travel. Hours upon hours of information on parsecs and light years that I can’t wait to share with… Dee Dee. My pug.
Nowadays I stick to the things I know how to do. Eat cookies. No, and bake them too. Oh, and cook actual food. Because someone told me recently that you people might need some sustenance other than butter, sugar, eggs, and chocolate. I’m not sure why. But I’ll give you something real nonetheless.
A classic marinara. One that doesn’t require you to be a professional to attempt. And I won’t judge you for your athleticism, your wind pants, or the sound of your laugh. Even if it sounds like a whinny. Especially if it sounds like a whinny.
This sauce is blood red and rich. Luscious and intensely sweet. Caramelizing the onions in olive oil before adding the tomatoes to the saucepan gives it a depth of flavor that is unmatched, and absolutely delightful. Go heavy on the spices and add a spoonful of sugar, as my PJ always does. Ladle it on pasta or just into a bowl… it’s divine.
- 2 TBS olive oil
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 medium onion, finely diced (about 2/3 cup)
- 1, 28 oz can ground, peeled or crushed tomatoes (Pastene brand or San Marzano is best)
- 1 TBS dried oregano
- 2 tsp dried basil
- 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
- 1-2 TBS sugar
- fresh basil, a garnish for serving
Add olive oil to a medium saucepan set over medium heat.
Add onions and saute for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions have begun to turn a deep caramel color. They will smell faintly sweet. Do not let them burn. You will want to lower your heat to medium-low after about 5 minutes of cooking. Next, add the garlic and stir constantly for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. If you let the garlic burn even slightly, the sauce will taste bitter so be very careful here.
Add all remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
Turn the heat back up to medium and let the mixture come to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and let your sauce simmer for as long as you can. At least 30 minutes for an intense, sweet tomato flavor. The longer you let your sauce sit on the stovetop, simmering away, the richer the taste will be. Test the sauce and adjust the seasoning as necessary. Generally, the most common problem you’ll detect in food (of any kind) is either too much or too little salt. Or sugar. Those are the areas you’ll want to play with- adding more or less salt/sugar- for the optimal flavor.