Many of my fellow Americans fail to realize that the word “spaghetti” refers to the type of pasta used, not the dish itself. In this case, they’re long, cylindrical noodles. You can make the same dish with a variety of pasta types, including elbow macaroni. Most people get hung up on the noodles, though, so it really depends on preference.
A homemade spaghetti dinner doesn’t have to be completely homemade. Unless you’re making the noodles yourself and killing an animal yourself for the meat, it isn’t completely homemade anyway.
My wife, Josie, and I prefer to use one variety or another of Ragú as our spaghetti sauce. When we’re in the Philippines, it may not be available at the stores we usually frequent. Many times, we’ll use one of the Hunt’s Pasta Sauce flavors. We always use lean ground beef, usually imported from Australia.
She starts with a half-kilogram (a little over a pound) of lean ground beef, which is as lean as 80 percent or more. After browning, there’s very little “grease” to drain, if any at all. She then adds the pasta sauce. I don’t know why, but she adds more diced onions, garlic and tomato sauce to the mix. It doesn’t make sense to me but then, I’m not the cook.
When it’s all done, there’s enough pasta and spaghetti sauce to feed more than 10 people. I try to hang on to as much of it as possible, so I can eat it for two or three days. For some reason, the spaghetti sauce tastes better after it sits in the fridge for a day or two.
She makes spaghetti dinners in the United States in pretty much the same way, but using even leaner beef (up to 93 percent) when she can.
We like to buy garlic bread when we can find it. The same goes for Parmesan cheese. I can eat spaghetti with or without the cheese, but I prefer topping it with the cheese. One of my daughters-in-law, Cathy, prefers cheddar cheese instead of Parmesan.
We prefer canned sweet corn over corn on the cob. We’ll use corn on the cob, but only if we already have some available. There are more side dish options than I care to name. For me, the spaghetti dish itself tends to fill me up by itself if I don’t stop myself from eating more helpings.
I guess it depends on what you consider traditional. There are more pasta dishes than you can shake a stick at and many of them use spaghetti.
I once went to an Italian restaurant at Camp Foster on Okinawa, Japan, with a friend of Italian descent. I ordered spaghetti and got noodles with tomato sauce - I had to order the meatballs separately. That same friend ate Josie’s version a few months later, and he preferred how she made it.
I don’t like most other Italian dishes, unless you consider pizza an Italian dish (I don’t).