I was always a food snob. My mother’s family was Italian; my uncle was Frank Sinatra’s bodyguard at Caesars Palace. As a kid, I could eat a pound of pasta, no problem. I thought a box was a serving.
My family was very bad at American food, so whenever we got together, it was always pasta. I remember pulling into the driveway of my grandparents’ house and smelling the garlic from the sauce cooking all day. Realtors would do a lot better sautéing garlic and olive oil in a house than baking cookies.
My grandmother would always give me a bowl of marinara and a big hunk of bread as an appetizer. On rare occasions she would burn the sauce and try to pass it off, and it was like eating a tire. My grandfather would get these special meatballs that had pignoli in them. There was nothing more disgusting than biting into one of Grandpa’s meatballs by accident. The texture was almost like eating a bug.
Today I make my own marinara. The recipe is nothing special, but my kids love it, and the most fun thing in the world is to feed your children. At the end of the night in the studio, I have nothing physical to show for what I’ve done. Feeding people, though—that’s a sense of accomplishment. In both cases I’m hosting, I guess. Cooking is probably the more natural form.
JIMMY KIMMEL’S MARINARA
Serves 4 reasonable humans—or 2 Kimmels
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
4 to 6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 28-oz. can whole peeled tomatoes (California-grown Bianco DiNapoli preferred)
1 tsp. sea salt 6 basil leaves, chopped
1) Heat oil in pan over medium-low heat. Add garlic until golden; remove and set aside to spread on toasted bread later. Add tomatoes with liquid to pan. Turn heat to medium-high; boil about 1 minute, then lower heat to simmer. Add salt and basil. Simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add al dente pasta directly from pot to sauce. Toss and serve.