I believe in Bacon Spaghetti. My mother, Helen Craig Lynch, is turning 70 this month, and she has probably made this recipe more than anyone else in the five generations of our family that it’s been a culinary staple. A timeless casserole of spaghetti in a tomato-soup based sauce with bacon, onion, green peppers and cheddar cheese, no one ingredient stands out above the others. It’s is a very thrifty recipe to make. If you stick to the 6 slices of bacon the original recipe calls for, instead of the pound of center-cut bacon some of us prefer, you can feed a family of five for less than a venti chai latte, with leftovers for lunch. ‘Scotch’ is the way my mother proudly describes herself. Not that she lives a life without indulgences. Finding just the right pair of shoes in her closet is generally not a problem, and while she loves her LL Bean Double L shirts and high-waisted khaki pants, she’s never gone out- be it a dinner party or wedding, in something that couldn’t be described as fabulous. To justify a new outfit, all it has to have is a matching jacket and she’s met her criteria for a prudent purchase, no matter the price tag.
Bacon Spaghetti is easy to make but not plain. It’s complex but not fancy. And it definitely gets better with age. My mother reads the New York Times every day, but would never use knowledge to put someone on edge. She has a way of making everyone feel comfortable and welcome. She’s gracious and selfless, sometimes to a fault. Maybe it’s a coping strategy from having raised three daughters, but more likely, it’s her unwavering faith in God, devotion to Mary, mother of God, and steadfast belief in service to others. A good sport, she’s the first to laugh at herself, especially when it involves her unreliable hearing or bottomless travel mug of decaf coffee, which she sips with a straw throughout the day. A grandmother to eight, she’s stood in the rain to watch soccer matches, endured frozen toes at hockey games, assembled costumes, given hula lessons, searched far and wide for that special must-have gift, and enthusiastically attended countless concerts, plays, and art shows.
If food is comfort then Bacon Spaghetti is a thousand hugs. A planner, a worrier, a loyal friend, my mother is comfortable at the heart of a crisis, unassumingly there for a last goodbye to a dear friend, a sister who lost a husband, a paralyzed son-in-law. In times of joy- a weekend with friends or a family beach picnic- the ultimate review is always, ‘we had a lot of laughs’. In the fabric of our family, mom gently weaves a rich legacy of purpose and pleasure. Eat, laugh, love, and have another serving of Bacon Spaghetti.
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