Marinara translated means "sauce of the sailors."It is said that the sauce originated in Naples in 1600's when the Spanish introduced Italy to tomatoes. In the 1600's this sauce was easy to make and without refrigeration it resisted spoiling due to high acid content in tomatoes. Italian Americans refer to marinara as "gravy" or "Sunday gravy" because the sauce was simmered with large quantities of meat. The gravy usually consisted of pork butt, chuck roast, meatballs, braciole(thin slices of meat rolled with cheese and bread crumbs) and Italian sausages. The name conjours up large family gatherings of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends crowding around tables sharing the tradition of community.
Most foods with any ancestral history have become altered, misrepresented and twisted, but, maybe in the case of sauce sugo(meatless tomato sauce) the simplicity of its pure ingredients have made it impossible to deviate from the original plan. One thing I swear to you though, Marinara was born to meet pasta, and I believe that it transformed the face of pasta forever. Marinara sauces vary from neighborhood to neighborhood and from family to family. Here is a basic recipe from Sheila Watson Kraklow, that I feel sums up Marinara, the recipe is just a guide and can be altered to suit the maker.
Basic Marinara Sauce
6 lbs. fresh off the vine tomatoes
2 large yellow onions, diced
6 large cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 bunch fresh basil, chopped
1 tsp. each sea salt, black pepper and sugar
2 tbsp. dried oregano
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.~J.R.R. Tolkien(1892-1973)