It’s well documented that my French heritage has played a huge role in my passion for cooking and eating. Lately, however, I’ve had the opportunity to explore my Polish half, my Father’s side. Living in Chicago, one of the largest communities of Poles, has made this exploration all the more exciting and fun. Last month I joined a group of mothers from the French Lycee for a visit to the Polish Museum of America. Then lunch at Czerwone Jabluszko aka Red Apple Restaurant. Not one to usually seek out buffet restaurants, I will say that everything was wonderful and authentic, bringing back such delicious memories of Sunday dinners at my Polish Grandmother’s house in Warren, Ohio. All you can eat for $10.00!!
Getting in touch with my Polish roots led to a serious craving for Noodles with Cabbage, Sausage and Onions. Sitting down with my daughter to enjoy this dish of pasta, I couldn’t help but think of all the influences that led to this dish of pasta. It struck me as so “American“, in the most positive sense of the word. In 1945, adventurous French woman met handsome Polish/American soldier during WWII. They got married in France then moved to Ohio, living at first with Polish Grandparents who never spoke a word of English. They had children, of which I was the oldest and therefore the one with whom my mother spoke most often in French. Feeling the connection to France at a young age, I began to spend summers with my French relatives, savoring foods that were not yet available and common in the U.S. during the 50’s and 60’s. After graduating from college, still unsure as to what I should do with my life, I combined the French passion for food with an American entrepreneurial spirit and began making pasta to sell to local stores. Around the same time, I married Dennis Deschaine and got a French last name in the deal. Growing our business, one bag of pasta at a time, our marriage and partnership has sustained Al Dente Pasta Company for 28 years.
When I told the tour guide at the Polish museum what my maiden name was, his eyes lit up as he led me to the huge stained glass. Imagine my surprise to see my maiden name, the long version, below this beautiful piece of artwork.
Al Dente Noodles with Cabbage, Onions and Sausage
12 oz. bag of Al Dente Egg Fettuccine
4 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 smoked chicken apple sausage, eg Aidell’s, sliced
1 small green cabbage, sliced thinly
2 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
1 cup water.
salt and pepper
Cook onions and cabbage, seasoned with salt and pepper, in the olive oil over low heat until carmelized, about 15 minutes. Add sausage and vinegar. Then add water. Cover and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes. Cook Al Dente pasta for 3 minutes. Drain and toss with cabbage. Garnish with parsley or dill.