JOPLIN, Mo. —
While some people swear that the chicken wing craze started in Buffalo, N.Y., others insist that it began in Texas.
In St. Louis, people will argue all day and late into the night about which restaurant first served up fried ravioli.
And while right-minded folks will say that spaghetti red was invented in Joplin, other well-meaning but misinformed people say that it got its start in Cincinnati, Ohio.
I think it’s safe to say that the best thing to do in all three cases is agree to disagree. I mean, in the long run, when you bite into a mess o’ wings (when referring to chicken wings, it’s considered gauche if you don’t use the term “mess o’ wings” at least once), do you really care where the idea came from?
Does knowing exactly which St. Louis restaurant first served up fried ravioli really make it taste any better?
And does the fact that there are some nice yet misinformed people in Ohio who think spaghetti red was born in Cincinnati change the fact that the dish is proof that there is a God?
I think not.
As with most great dishes, the genius of spaghetti red is its simplicity. We like spaghetti, right? We also like chili. So why not combine them?
I read somewhere that back east, they make spaghetti red with barbecue sauce. How great is that?
Of course, spaghetti red does raise the age-old question: Which came first, the spaghetti or the chili?
I think the best way to answer that is the way the nuns used to answer questions that they didn’t want to deal with when I was a kid in Catholic school: “It’s a mystery.”
I had spaghetti red on my brain Wednesday because I received an email from Stephanie Mann. Stephanie is the executive director of the Joplin Association for the Blind and Low Vision Enhancement Center, and she sent me the email to remind me that the organization’s annual spaghetti red feed is Thursday.
As far as I’m concerned, it wouldn’t be spring without the Association for the Blind’s spaghetti red feed, just as it wouldn’t be fall without the group’s chili feed.
I think I’ve been writing about the association’s chili and spaghetti red feeds for as long as I’ve been doing this column. If I had an assistant, I’m sure I could tell you if that was correct or not, but I don’t, so I can’t. Sometimes, I think it would be neat to have an assistant. The great columnist Mike Royko had an assistant. But, as has been pointed out to me before, I’m no Mike Royko, so maybe I really don’t need an assistant.
By the way, I heard someone once say that I was no Mike Royko. I think it was meant to be an insult. But I don’t know. I’m not sure being told you’re not Mike Royko is an insult. It’s more of a “Duh!”
Besides, if I had an assistant, that person would likely spend his time sitting around going, “So this is it? This is all you do?”
Who needs that?
Of course, if I did have an assistant, that person right now would probably be saying something like: “The spaghetti red feed! You were talking about the spaghetti red feed, you moron!”
And I would probably say something like: “Oh right, the spaghetti red feed. Sorry.”
The Joplin Association for the Blind and Low Vision Enhancement Center’s spaghetti red feed runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday for lunch and then from 4 to 7 p.m. for dinner at the association’s office, 311 S. Schifferdecker Ave.
The cost of the meal, which includes a drink and a desert, is $7 for adults and $3 for children. Takeout orders are available by calling 417-623-5721 or by fax at 417-623-1968.
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