Many of my fellow Americans fail to realize that the word “spaghetti” refers to the type of pasta used. 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 depends on who’s eating.
A homemade spaghetti dinner doesn’t have to be completely homemade. Unless you’re making the noodles yourself and killing your own cattle for the meat, it isn’t completely homemade anyway.
We like to use Hunt’s Pasta Sauce. It’s available at the Royal Subic store at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone next to Olongapo, Philippines. It’s the same place we buy our pasta and ingredients for side dishes.
My wife, Josie, is the only one that cooks it in our compound. She let a sister cook the noodles once and that was once too much. The secret to cooking the noodles is to add about a teaspoon of vegetable oil to the boiling water so they don’t stick together.
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 Josie adds more diced onions and 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.
We like to buy garlic bread when we can find it. The same goes for Parmesan cheese. I can eat this spaghetti dish with or without the cheese, but I prefer topping it with the cheese.
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 if I don’t stop myself before having seconds and thirds.
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. I ordered spaghetti and got noodles with tomato sauce. I had to order meatballs separately. I guess that was their version of the traditional dish.
I’ve only dined at the Olive Garden Italian Kitchen once since then (more than 25 years later). I don’t like most other Italian dishes, unless you consider pizza an Italian dish. I don’t.