A quarter before four. The digits on the clock’s face glowed by my bedside. Something woke me up — a dream, a sudden chill in the room — I couldn’t remember but I couldn’t fall back to sleep. I was tired but helplessly awake. A million things raced through my mind. A million what to dos and what ifs. A million worries consumed me.

I slipped out of our bed as quietly as I could. The patter of little feet trailed behind me. The orange glow of the lamp post outside peered through the windows. I had planned to get up early that morning to write before I head out to work but I was too distracted to even sit still at my desk.

I poured myself a cup of coffee then ravaged through the fridge for something to eat. One percent milk. Swiss cheese. A cartonful of brown eggs from the girls. Cold rice. Sriracha. Then I spotted the spaghetti leftover from a few nights before. I was euphoric. I fired up the stove and, soon, the cold noodles hissed in the hot pan, breaking the silence of the early morning. I tossed them a few times with a quick thrust of the pan then hurriedly transferred them to a plate. The noodles were exactly what I needed. It must be the sweet sauce. A sweetness so familiar, so comforting. It must be the thick wedges of hot dog. It must be the memories of home. I sandwiched spoonfuls of sweet spaghetti in between a piece of pan de sal and savored every bite.

Everything will work out, I reminded myself. It always does.


Filipino-Style Spaghetti with Meatballs Recipe, makes six servings

For the meatballs

1/2 lb ground 85% lean beef
1/2 lb ground pork
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small yellow onion
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon chopped oregano
1 teaspoon chopped parsley
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons grated or shredded Parmesan cheese

For the spaghetti

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 lb hot dog, thinly sliced
2 cups tomato sauce
1/2 cup banana ketchup
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper

cooked spaghetti noodles
parmesan or cheddar cheese, grated
parsley, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Season the ground beef and ground pork with salt and fresh-ground black pepper. Grate the onion with a large-hole or coarse grater or chop it very finely. Measure about 1/3 cup grated onion.

Combine ground beef, ground pork, onions, and the rest of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Mix them with your hands gently but thoroughly. Be careful not to mix them too much because doing so will make the meatballs tough. Fry a small pinch in a pan and taste. Add salt and pepper as needed. Gently roll into golf-ball-size meatballs by hand, about one and a half inches in diameter.

Bake the meatballs on a rimmed baking sheet until just cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes. Set aside.

Sauté garlic and onions in olive oil and butter in a large pan over medium to high heat. Add hotdogs and fry them until lightly browned. Add tomato sauce, banana ketchup, water, brown sugar, and meatballs. Let the sauce simmer over medium to low heat until it thickens, 10 to 15 minutes.

Add cooked spaghetti noodles in the pan. Stir until the noodles are completely dressed with the sauce. Serve in bowls with cheese and chopped parsley.


Spaghetti with Meatballs