Red Sauce, Please

It’s a contest. People take this seriously. There are bragging rights to be had.

But before the winner of the Spaghetti Cook-off is announced … those of us on the judging panel (actually an entire auditorium of us) get to sample some rockin’ awesome spaghetti.

We tasted 6 different red sauces – made by local restaurants, the retirement center and the high school culinary arts students. Out of crock pots, no less. With little tiny tasting cups and little white sample spoons. I was hooked from the start. Totally hooked.  

I met some wonderful people as I made my way down the spaghetti cook-off line; Marilyn (who informed me her last name is not Monroe, nor has she ever had a date with a Kennedy), Barbara (who’s sense of humor is beyond hilarious) and Bob (I’ll bet Bob is the world’s best Grandaddy).

We tasted. We conferred. We tried to be serious judges. It was a bit hard. Everyone was having way too much fun!

At the end of the line, I was to write my favorite sauce’s number on a slip of paper (this now becomes my ballot), take it over to the server window and wait for my steaming hot plate of (ahem, #6, thank you) spaghetti.

What a brilliant idea! I get to taste, I get to vote, I get to eat delicious pasta. Why haven’t I ever heard of a Spaghetti Cook-off until this week? I’ve lived in small towns before and nobody has ever had a spaghetti cook-off. This bumps the apple pie social and the harvest potluck down a rung or two.

I’d like to digress for just one second here – and tell you that in all honesty – each different red sauce was wonderful. I had a heck of a time trying to choose my favorite. And I can’t tell you who won, because at this writing the winner hadn’t been announced. Or, at least, it hadn’t been announced before I had to leave such a terrific party.

As a tourist, I would have thought this would be an interesting outing on a Thursday night. A nice plate of pasta, a glass of vino and perhaps some ice cream for dessert. As a townie, however, I have a new-found appreciation for what makes a small town – well, a charming and delightful small town.

Here’s the best part. You know those gorgeous hanging baskets of flowers all around town? The ones that – by July – are huge and glorious and brimming with color? The proceeds from the Spaghetti Cook-off help pay for them.

The kind people of La Conner are happy to donate their time (it takes a lot of volunteers to man a Spaghetti Cook-off), their culinary talent, or their ticket purchase, so that you and I can enjoy those lovely icons of small-town summer. I will never look at my town’s hanging baskets the same way again.

I, for one, would like to thank everyone who had a hand in making my Thursday night such fun.

And I’d like just a little more of that #6 red sauce, please.

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