Chris Malcomb’s essay, “Red Sauce Days,” came to us in a roundabout way. I had known Chris for a couple of years, and I knew he was a practicing Buddhist. I also knew he was a thoughtful essayist,capable of digging deep into his unconscious and pulling out hard won insight and prescient reflections. I knew he had taught middle school, and in a maximum security prison, and had a unique ability to empathize with his subjects. (His essays have been widely published in journals and magazines.) I had also been reading a little about mindful eating, which wasn’t getting a whole lot of press back in 2008. So I asked him if he’d be interested in pitching us a mindful eating piece for Cassoulet. He hemmed and hawed. “Actually,” he said, “what I’d really like to write about is my family’s restaurant.”
“Your family’s what?” I said.
Turns out, Chris’s family owns Jeveli’s, one of the oldest Italian restaurants in Boston. So much for mindful eating.
We sent him down the rabbit hole of his family’s history, and he teased out a story of the generations of his family through a single recipe—Jeveli’s famous red sauce. There’s nothing Buddhist about his piece—you can check out his classes and workshops for that. Instead, Chris gives readers a surprising story about tradition and continuity and the inevitability of change. And he got the restaurant’s original Red Sauce recipe, too.