Sometimes I try to recreate my childhood comfort foods and then wonder what I thought was so great about them. I can never be sure if my tastes have changed, or the formula for the food, or perhaps it was really the memories were what were so good, rather than the food. However, yesterday, I had the happy experience of eating a childhood favorite, and returning squarely to the comfort zone that I was looking for. From whence did these memories come? Why, Don Pepino Pizza Sauce!
Sundays were "pizza kit" day at my house when I was growing up. A local store (no longer in existence and whose name I can no longer remember) in my hometown of Catonsville, Maryland sold the kits which contained three pizza shells, a bag of mozzarella cheese, and a can of Don Pepino sauce. I loved pizza kits, probably as much for the fact that Sunday pizza meant the whole family was dining together as much as for the enjoyment of eating pizza. I also knew that not any old sauce would be good enough for the pizza - it had to be Don Pepino. I have never enjoyed pizza like the Sunday pizza kits, until yesterday (which, was coincidently, a Sunday). I found the cans of Don Pepino at the grocery store while visiting my parents who still live in Maryland (I have not seen them anywhere else I have lived since I moved away 26 years ago). Although it had been a month since we bought the half dozen cans we didn't open any until yesterday afternoon, when my husband, daughter, and I were together after almost a month of being apart. Of course I did not have the pre-made pizza shells that came with the original pizza kits, but I expect the dough I made in the bread machine made for a better shell anyway (we also discovered that substituting water for beer in the bread machine recipe made a pizza dough that was crispier, and that we all liked better - who would have guessed I would ever prefer water over beer!). The comfort of having my family surrounding me, combined with the Don Pepino sauce - just like I remembered it - gave me warmth on a cold winter day.