I tutor at an after-school learning center for students from different schools around Santa Ana. I work with kids in grades 1-5 in groups of 2 to 6. We are crammed into a little Sunday school classroom in the basement of an old church downtown.
Some days go like this:
Six kids make a beeline for my table. “Miss Leeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeigh!” They throw their backpacks on the ground excitedly. Sometimes I get hugs. They tell me about their days. On a good day, they do this while taking out their homework.
Then it begins. “Miss Leigh, I need help!” They all need help with their math homework. This is usually the most difficult subject, and we encourage them to do the hardest work first. They are from different schools and are in different grades, so they don’t have the same assignment. “OK, I’m going to help [student 1] first, so do you have other homework you can work on until I get to you?” I ask. One student will usually protest, saying, “But mine’s the hardest! UUUUGH!” I usually ignore it. From here, it’s an hour of dodging over tiny-chair-and-backpack landmines while I work my way around the table, helping them dissect each word problem or set of directions while they tune me out. (Therein lie the deeper problems of needing to improve literacy and fluency. And motivation. And focus.) When they’re done, I’ll have to do it all again for the next group of kids.
When I’m done, I’m done. I’ve mentally checked out. I’m dreaming of a mixing bowl full of spaghetti, a movie, a dark room, and a big glass of wine.
Enter cheap marinara. I hate most jarred pasta sauces, so I decided to make my own.
To continue the educational theme, let’s learn a little bit about the origins of marinara sauce from The Italian Chef: “Marinara derives from the Italian word for sailor, marinaro. Due to these origins I have seen many people say that marinara sauce must contain something from the sea, usually anchovies. Actually this is not the case, the origins of marinara sauce are that it is the sauce that they made in Naples for the sailors when they returned from the sea.”
- 1 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1-2 cloves garlic (I use a teaspoon of the jarred type)
- 2 cans diced or crushed tomatoes
- 2 tsp basil
- 2 tsp oregano
- 2 tsp parsley
- splash of whatever wine you’re drinking
- olive oil
Cook onion and garlic in olive oil until onions are translucent. Add tomatoes, herbs, wine and bring to boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. I usually cook the pasta at this point. Add salt/pepper to taste. Makes 4-6 servings. Or 2, if you’re me (half for now, half for lunches and dinners later).
It tastes better in a dark room with wine and a Hayao Miyazaki movie.