“My Mother’s Spaghetti With Peas”

My mom’s dad, Edwin Jönsson, didn’t trust pasta. Born in 1901, he grew up in Sweden under very poor circumstances, and the poor man’s cooking of his childhood dictated his palate for the rest of his life. He preferred the grease left over in the frying pan to butter, meatballs and meat loaf to steak, and he insisted on boiled potatoes with every meal. When the 1970s rolled around and trendy foods such as spaghetti with garlic started appearing, he thought it wasn’t real food. (Don’t even get me started on what he thought about rice.)

Spaghetti with meat sauce and peas was the one pasta dish that my mom made, and whenever my grandfather was there, she’d have to make him his own side dish of boiled potatoes. He spooned the meat sauce over the potatoes and ate them while we feasted on our noodles. I’ve adapted my mother’s recipe, making the sauce lighter and fresher, and I use a healthier, whole grain pasta.