About Amanda

I’m a disgruntled Metro-North commuter by morning, real estate journalist by day, insomniac by night, and cancer butt-kicker for life.

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Ragu Gone Wrong

A Writer’s Book of Days (09/03) – Write what was broken

My grandmother placed the steaming, hot plate of fettuccine alfredo on the kitchen table. Our stomachs grumbled in anticipation.

My sister was the first to take a bite.

Crunch, crunch, crunch.

Wait… fettuccine alfredo isn’t supposed to be crunchy.

“There’s glass in the pasta,” she cried, spitting out what remained in her mouth. A chunky shard sat on the side of her plate.

We then remembered the crash we heard earlier in the day. Grandma confessed that the bottle of Ragu alfredo sauce fell off the counter, and she decided to salvage as much as the sauce as she could—picking up some of the broken glass along with it. The fettuccine went in the garbage that night. We probably wound up ordering a pizza.

It’s a classic story we love to retell of my grandmother’s Depression-era tendencies to save as much as she could. I remember walking in the kitchen one day and finding her dutifully squeezing out all the single packets of ketchup we’d get at fast food joints into the Heinz bottle (that is, after emptying all the extra packets of soy sauce into the Kikkoman bottle). When she’d go to hotels, she’d not only take home the complimentary toiletries, but the extra rolls of toilet paper (“I paid for it, didn’t I?”). If she went to her favorite casino’s buffet, Ziploc bags were stored in her purse for a snack later. We nicknamed her “Iron Stomach” for all of the old leftovers she’d save and turn into omelettes or pasta toppings days later.

As I look at the giant stack of soy sauce and ketchup packets taking up space in my pantry, I must admit that I’m tempted. But the hotel Charmin stays.

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