Earlier this week, I met one of my many cousins for lunch. He was helping me take care of some boring adult-like stuff, but we managed to spend a majority of the afternoon talking about food. We are both now motherless adults and speaking to him made me realize, once again, how much comfort and connection food holds. His mother was the closest thing to a mom that I had after my mother passed away. Even though she had 4 children of her own, my aunt was always there to provide me with memories and a warm meal whenever I took the time to drop in for a visit. Like most of my aunts, this one was short and feisty and took no shit from anyone.
I miss having all these awesome women in my life. Women I didn’t appreciate nearly enough when they were around. I know I sound like a broken record, but it’s just how I’m feeling.
On to the food! I know that combining spaghetti with lamb shoulder, cinnamon, allspice and tomato paste (with other ingredients, of course), and then baking it doesn’t sound all that appealing to most people, but I assure you it’s delicious.
Amazingly, the cooking process for this dish was pretty accurate to the recipe I posted earlier. Just note that you’ll need to use about 6-7 cups of water when boiling the meat and then using two small cans (or one large) of tomato paste. I seasoned the meat pre-tomato and then again after. Pre-tomato you should aim for about 2/3 tsp of allspice, tsp. of cinnamon, pepper and salt to taste. After the sauce, I added a few shakes of allspice and cinnamon and at least another 1/2 tbs. of salt and pepper.
I’m really happy with how this turned out. I still think it was missing a little something, but I’m thrilled with my first attempt. I think I’ll used beef next time around because I just prefer the taste. But, the feeling I got from tasting the dish before it went in the oven brought back so many memories. I was 7 years old all over again. Eventually, I’ll be able to get to a point where I can effectively communicate to everyone how emotionally overwhelming cooking these dishes really is for me. In time, I’ll be more comfortable moving past the food and sharing more about the women, my mom in particular, who helped define the woman I am today.