My husband has a thing about buying gas. It’s sort of like asking for directions: he won’t do it until the situation is dire. As you can imagine, this sometimes gets him in trouble, as it did when I was in labor, minutes away from giving birth to our second child. Luckily for Tom I was in too much distress to hit him with a frying pan when he pulled into a gas station on the way to the hospital.
He got in trouble again the other day when our big fat rental car conked out on highway 95 just shy of our Connecticut destination. Tom coasted down an exit ramp, at the bottom of which the car just stopped, refusing to go one inch further, stubborn as my husband.
A speedy guy in a pickup truck honked behind us. When Tom threw up his hands to indicate helplessness, Mr. Speedy screeched around us, yelling “Jackass!”at my husband, saving me the trouble.
Then we got lucky: Louie showed up. Louie is a middle-aged guy who looks and behaves like Clarence, the angel in It’s A Wonderful Life. After he pushed our car to a shady off-road spot, he drove Tom to the gas station to fetch a couple of gallons.
Tom told me later that on their way, Louie had related the mini-series of his life: he was divorced and unemployed, had just had a fight with his girlfriend and was on his way home to make tomato sauce.
Wait. Tomato sauce? In a lineup I’d never have picked Louie as the guy who makes tomato sauce. If I’d been in the car, hearing this directly, I’d have pressed him for details. Was cooking a form of post-spat therapy? Was he making a tomato sauce as a peace offering for the girlfriend or was he just, you know, hungry? If the former, then why tomato sauce? Why not chocolate cake? If the latter, then why not a simple PBJ sandwich? Who taught him to make tomato sauce? The ex?
And then, of course, I’d have raised the most obvious question: “What’s your recipe for tomato sauce?”
But it was my husband who had this conversation with Louie, and for him, this is a question that, of all the questions in the entire universe, he would be least likely to utter. The question, “Can you tell me how to get to the the Boston Hotel, since it’s two a.m. and I am completely lost and my wife will shortly hit me with a frying pan?” is right up there in the realm of never-to-be-spoken, but asking for a recipe is in a whole other league. Tom would not even know how to put the words together.
So, he was riding shotgun with a man who had a recipe to share and the opportunity zipped right by. I am left to imagine how Louie would have made tomato sauce.
Below is a recipe that I feel is Louie-ish, if not not exactly his. I include it here with gratitude for the kindness of a stranger who got our big, fat rental up and running before I had time to locate a frying pan.
1 1/2-2 pounds tomatoes, roughly chopped
3 Tbls. butter
Heat the butter until it melts. Add tomatoes and cook briskly until they get really juicy, then simmer until the sauce concentrates to your satisfaction.