You may be thinking “chocolate chips and marinara? What? Those don’t go together very well!” and you’d be right. You wouldn’t dunk your chocolate chip cookie in a nice warm bowl of marinara sauce, and you certainly wouldn’t grate chocolate over your pasta like Parmesan cheese… But sometimes, the things that don’t seem like a good match, really are.
Think about the times in your life where you find joy in unexpected places: great joy following times of great sorrow; changes that seem to come from nowhere; big changes that come from small things.
The first recipe I mastered was the simple chocolate chip cookie. I’d help my mom make them every week, and my brothers, sister, and I would have the whole batch devoured in a matter of days. Mom would tweak the recipe a little, adding nuts, or changing from milk chocolate to semi-sweet chips, or even changing to butterscotch or mint chips from time to time. As an adult, I tweaked it more. I changed from using margarine to actual butter, and from imitation vanilla to real vanilla, and then to making my own vanilla. My family doesn’t go through cookies as quickly as I did as a kid, and so another tweak was made – baking a dozen cookies right up front, then freezing the scoops of unbaked dough so we can have hot, fresh cookies whenever we want.
I married into an Italian family – my father-in-law is a third generation Italian American who emigrated to Utah, where he married my mother-in-law, a descendant of Mayflower Pilgrims and Mormon Pioneers. She tried to learn to cook the way her mother-in-law did, and was pretty successful most of the time, but resorted to using jarred marinara sauce. My husband didn’t like the jarred sauce, so we started making our own, and eventually he started making it in big batches and bottling it for storage. It makes every pasta dish feel fancier, and it can be adjusted to make the best tomato soup you’ve ever had or an amazing pizza sauce.
So this is where the combination of chocolate chips and marinara comes from: the sweet and the savory, the ups and the downs, the main course and the dessert. Without one, the other is meaningless. And isn’t that really the point of life, to understand that in order for there to be meaning, there have to be opposites?