Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Do You Call It GRAVY or SAUCE ???

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The Great Debate, is it GRAVY Or SAUCE ???

What do you Call it?



by Catherine Scorsese

  GIA Says : It’s interesting to me that people who call it “gravy” believe that the people calling it “sauce” must only be those who came as immigrants later and that “sauce” is a newer term. Not in my estimation. My grandparents from Italy only spoke Italian, came over in the 20’s and their families called it “SAUCE” no matter if there was meat in it or not. Sundays was always meat in it the “sauce” and on Weds, leftovers, less meat or no meat at all. They lived in the Cobble Hill area of Brooklyn and Park Slope respectively as the children (my Father) became adults. We NEVER said “gravy” and I never heard the term “gravy” until I was much older and it became grounds for a silly argument. I am a second generation Italian American and all my Aunts and Uncles called it “Sauce” regardless if it had meat in it or not. Sometimes it was just a marinara w/out meat but it was always referred to as Sauce on Sundays and Weds. Sundays were characteristically special when you had the relatives over and there was plenty of meatballs and sausage and lets not forget the cheese!! In our house it was always ROMANO on the table. Left overs were eaten on Weds and the meat was either gone or a bit more was added to it usually in the form of ground beef. Many times we ate it without meat due to budget or just not being able to get to the butcher in time. Again, in my mind “gravy” has a completely different smell, consistency and color and sometimes has onions in it and is usually very salty. It;s usually white or brown flour based and goes over mashed potatoes, biscuits, liver etc.  

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Cooking a Pot of SUNDAY SAUCE

or is It GRAVY ???

What Do You Call It ???


  I’m “really” Italian-American and I get extremely annoyed when Italian-Americans call it gravy instead of sauce. Even more irritating is when the pretend to know how to speak Italian and pronounce Italian words incorrectly, almost always chopping the vowel off of the end. I feel Italian is the most beautiful of the romance languages and they make it sound horrible :-(   JAMES PASTO : Hi Andrea, thanks for your comment. I get your point, but as I see it, “gravy” is a term that somehow emerged as the preferred term for a lot of Italian immigrants to America. The usage is very widespread so it is ‘correct’ as far as they see it. We always called it “gravy” and to me this was one of the ways we distinguished ourselves as “Italians.” On the pronunciation of words: I don’t think it is a matter of pretense but of language adaptation in a new setting as well as the fact that many of the “Italian” words that resulted were originally dialectical forms and not standard Italian. I agree that Italian is a beautiful language and it is too bad many if not most Italian Americans lost it, but I think there is a certain charm to the Italian American “Italgish” that emerged. I don’t see it as a detriment to the Italian language but rather as its survival in a majority English environment under great pressure to give up all non-English forms. But that is my view….   CHELLE says : I agree, Andrea. I’m first generation US born, 1/2 Italian, who has been to Italy a handful of times. My grandmother born and raised in Italy, living there until her mid-20’s, called it sauce. I find it annoying when people here call it gravy. My grandmother made lovely gravies, from creams and wines, that were truly gravies. I dislike, even more, that I’m always corrected with “gravy” every time I say I’m making my grandmother’s sauce. The people correcting me have never been to Italy, let alone their parents and sometimes even their grandparents…they are 3rd and 4th generation to the US.  


We Know What New York Italian-American Author Daniel Bellino "Z"

Calls It ... GRAVY !!!

  JR in Rhode Island says :

  By my standards in good ol’ Italian-America Rhode Island, a gravy is a tomato sauce with meat, but not like a bolognese. The base of this gravy is made with braciole, pork, sausage, meatballs, and my favorite, chunks of pepperoni. Getting some color first on the braciole, pork, and sausage is a must, meatballs can be fried or baked separately then tossed in the gravy to finish cooking, and the pepperoni can just be tossed in as well. In addition, a proper gravy must cook for a solid 2-3 hours, then simmer for another couple hours. It needs that time to properly cook the tomatoes and get all that flavor out of the meats… so delicious. Also, it is typically made in big batches and freezes pretty well. Buon Appetito!  



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