MICKEY MARGULIES: Cooking in Nashville since 1974

Dirty Page: Mom’s Spaghetti and Meatballs

photo: Andrea Behrends

photo: Andrea Behrends

Mickey Margulies has been making “Mom’s Spaghetti and Meatballs” for 45 years.

Every couple of months, it’s the centerpiece for her family’s weekly Sunday supper, a tradition she’s kept up through the years—in spite of everyone’s busy schedules. “They’ll call and say, ‘What time is lunch?’” Mickey says.

Her daughters Ellen, Karen and Jan, and granddaughter Kaiti, join as often as they can (Mickey’s son Paul lives in Bishkek, Kygyzstan)—and the door is always open. 

“Growing up, we’d all go to mass on Sundays with my dad while my mom stayed home and got started on Sunday dinner,” says the youngest daughter, Ellen. “That was always her excuse for staying home, but it was probably a nice way for her to get some peace and quiet.”

As for the origin of this particular recipe, it came to the family when Mickey’s eldest daughter Jan was about 8 years old. She’d tasted the spaghetti at a friend’s house and asked her mother to ask the friend’s mother for the recipe. “It’s the best spaghetti I’ve ever had,” Mickey remembers her saying.

“So, I called her and got the recipe,” she says. “And she had gotten it from an older Italian lady. We’ve been using it ever since.”

It’s not an “every week” type of recipe, says Mickey, but it’s in constant rotation with other Margulies family favorites—like pot roast, meatloaf and fried chicken.

“It's a nice way to sit down with everyone and catch up and just be together,” Ellen says. “I love it when everyone is in town at once, which is very rare because my brother lives on the other side of the world. We barely fit around the dining room table, but we make it work. I think we're really lucky to have this tradition. It's sort of the glue that keeps our family close.”  

Cindy Wall