Not Bolognese Sauce

by Irvin on October 24, 2016 · 6 comments

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This savory sauce is one of my go to recipes for when I am craving pasta. Just don’t call it Bolognese sauce. Everyone will get upset with you!

This savory Bolognese LIKE sauce isn't is my go-to favorite pasta sauce. Just don't call it Bolognese sauce. People will get REALLY upset. Photo and recipe by Irvin Lin of Eat the Love.

There are something things I try not to talk about on the internet. Abortion. Religion. Politics (definitely no politics, especially in a presidential election year…though if you know me at all, you probably know how I feel about the candidates). Mostly it’s because I live in a bubble where most of the people I am friends with have similar viewpoints to me. Or maybe that’s a falsity created by the algorithms of Twitter and Facebook. They funnel and “curate” my feed so that I only see things that I agree with more and more. Suddenly any sense of diversity is utterly lost. I miss the days of just being able to see whatever my friends (of all backgrounds) would just post whatever they want; even those posts that I don’t agree with. (Jump directly to the recipe.)

Of course, this also means I (mostly) avoid seeing people posting really offensive and disrespectful things as well. Sure I may have a token racist or xenophobic person floating in my follows or friends on one of my various networks, but I rarely see those posts from them. But all this got me thinking about the blessings and the curses of social media. Before the big wide world of social media we actually had face-to-face or phone-to-phone conversations with people, allowing us to discuss other various differences. Of course, I know that the world has changed immensely since I was in college, I can’t help miss that sort of interaction.

A giant bowl of pasta with a bolognese (like) sauce on top.

Right now the one social media platform that I’m enjoying the most is Snapchat. Those who are on it and use it regularly understand why, but those who aren’t, view it suspiciously with serious side eyes. For them, it’s the social media platform for 15 year olds to send sext messages back and forth. But for me, it’s the only platform that allows me not only to interact with people through video (making tone SO MUCH more easy to distinguish, something incredibly hard to do with status updates and 140 characters tweets) but it’s not highly curated like other platforms. Instagram has become a firehose of beautiful images of unattainable lives and their Snapchat knock off IG Stories sounds good in theory but usually are incredibly boring. Facebook is where you occasionally chat with that 7th grade friend that you haven’t seen since she moved away. But Snapchat, because of its ephemeral nature, allows people to casual post stuff without worrying about it becoming a permanent part of their internet history. Why would anyone want to communicate without archiving it? Because not everything and every thought is worth archiving.

The best way I try to explain Snapchat to people who aren’t on it, is to compare it to talking on the phone when we were kids. When we were kids and teenagers, we spent hours on the phone, chatting and talking about pretty much anything and everything and nothing at all. There’s no record of it and there’s no reason to have that record. We talked to each other because it was fun and that’s it. And Snapchat is basically the same thing. Because there’s no way to tell how popular someone is on their feed (there’s no like button, there’s no way to see how many followers a person has) basically there’s no social pressure to be awesome, amazing and utterly pinteresting, 24-7. Instead, you get to be who you are, with bad hair day and the occasional bad lighting. Snapchat feels more real to me. It feels like Instagram when it FIRST started and everyone was just posting bad photos taken with their phone. It feels like Twitter circa 2010 when people were on there chatting away and having fun. It feels more real.

My go-to favorite pasta sauce. I don't want to call it Bolognese sauce because people will yell at me. But that's pretty much what it is.

I share a hodgepodge of things on Snapchat from the food I’m making, San Francisco and random events that I am going to, as well as just random snapshots from my life. Lately I’ve even been using it as a video diary of my life. I download it every night so I have an archive of the snaps, useful as I just got back from a 5-week vacation that had me going all the way to Alaska via Vancouver as well as Indiana to visit AJ’s family. If people want to watch where I go (including some amazing National Parks in Washington, some gorgeous places in Oregon as well as Vancouver and the Alaska panhandle) then Snapchat is where they tune in.

I’ve met a number of folks from around the world from all walks of life. Andy lives in Amsterdam and we’ve chatted a number of times, even getting coffee when he’s in town. Evan lives just outside Seattle and draws illustrations and designs on his Snapchat, as well as shares snaps of kids and his bunny. And Kristen does a daily coffee talk (which I did a takeover of a couple of month ago) where she virtually has conversations with friends from across the country, as if her and them were having coffee together. The ability to meet and connect with people across the world reminds me of magic of social media…before it became work for me and other bloggers.

A giant bowl of pasta with a bolognese (like) sauce on top.

Before I left for my vacation months ago I shared a recipe for a pasta sauce that I love on Snapchat. It’s based off a more traditional Bolognese sauce recipe but I refuse to label it as such. I talked about this on Snapchat, how I don’t want to call it a Bolognese sauce. Like politics, or religion the phrase “Bolognese sauce” is utterly polarizing. No matter what the recipe version you have in hand, there is always some other Bolognese sauce recipe that is TRULY the authentic one, the one that was passed down by generations and it’s the REAL Bolognese sauce. And it doesn’t matter what recipe you share, there will be some other version that is more real. More authentic. Just more.

My version of pasta sauce, the one I shared on Snapchat, is decidedly NOT Bolognese sauce, though its based on a traditional version. But it’s also something that I love to make (and eat) and do fairly often in my household. And as I snapped it, I got a direct message from my friend Elizabeth, who lives in Italy, and who has written 7 books on Italian food. She was horrified by one ingredient that I added! I completely understand. It’s completely unorthodox. But I’m not tied to traditions when it comes to food and in the end this pasta sauce is awesome. (By the way, Elizabeth is awesome and you should totally follow her. Her snaps of Italy and the food she makes are amazing).

Ingredients for the Not Bolognese sauce

In the end, my love affair with Snapchat might fade away, much like my infatuation with Twitter. Already Instagram has introduced their “Instagram Stories” which are a blatant copy of Snapchat, further fracturing my audience there and I can feel the pull (though I haven’t succumbed yet – why are IG stories more boring than Snapchat? I don’t know, but they are). But this recipe for Not Bolognese sauce will endure beyond my interest in the new social media platform. I’ve made this Not Bolognese sauce so many times but I’ve never blogged about it because I was fearful of what folks will say. But with some encouragement and the fact that folks on Snapchat really wanted the recipe, here it is. Weird ingredients and all.

This savory Bolognese LIKE sauce isn't is my go-to favorite pasta sauce. Just don't call it Bolognese sauce. People will get REALLY upset. Photo and recipe by Irvin Lin of Eat the Love.
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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Marisa Franca @ All Our Way October 25, 2016 at 4:48 am

I’m certainly NOT shocked at your use of fish sauce — I use anchovies in my cooking all the time. I love the salty taste of anchovies and , you are so right, it adds an additional layer of flavor. I noticed you also used mushrooms, which we love, in your sauce. In our Bolognese sauce, we don’t use the anchovies or mushrooms but what the heck, we’ll give it a try in our pasta meat sauce. BTW, got your signature — thank you. Have a great day!


Lindsay Phillips October 25, 2016 at 8:06 am

Hi Irving. I am going to try this with the fish sauce. I have tried it with Hondashi before and found the taste of tuna too distinct for my taste. Great recipes. Thanks.


Platt College October 26, 2016 at 1:11 pm

Whatever it is it looks yummy!


Karen October 30, 2016 at 9:46 am

A truly crave-worthy sauce whatever one calls it. Another great umami ingredient is miso paste which is equally unorthodox by Italian standards but a great addition to soups and stews.


thefolia December 11, 2016 at 7:48 am

Cheers to a different twist here and there…happy feasting. If one is from New Jersey with roots from Italy they don’t even use the term sauce, it’s gravy. I’m no expert but I have heard this spoken with lots of passion.


Didina Gnagnide Angorinie March 13, 2017 at 10:52 am

I am Italian and not scandalized by fish sauce…in fact there’s a long history between anchoives and Italian food. Roman liquamen, garum, etc are Italian versions of fish sauce and were amply used. Barbarian invasions put an end to the production of fish sauce, which however survived in Cetara as colatura d’alici. I put it on everything and, in spite of being more expensive than Asian fish sauce, I use it almost exclusively because it fits the Italian palette better. Of course if I couldn’t find colatura I would use SEA fish sauce, but it doesn’t vibe as well imo…soy sauce is unforgivable though :P, I will use meat extract.


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