The day a notorious mobster taught me how to make pasta sauce.

I was saddened to hear the news that Ray Liotta passed away today. But I was downright mortified by my friend Ashley’s response.

You know what? I was salty! I was a freakin’ container of Morton’s Iodized because Goodfellas is probably my all-time favorite movie, and Ray Liotta’s portrayal of notorious mobster-turned-FBI-informant Henry Hill is brilliant. In fact, I was so moved by that film, I decided to reach out to the real Henry Hill in 2010. He’d gone into the witness protection program after ratting out his mob buddies, as the movie depicts, but he didn’t do a very good job of staying hidden. In fact, the former Lucchese crime family member had his own website, where he hawked Goodfellas memorabilia. Anything for a quick buck, I suppose.

Much to my surprise, he responded.

Granted, he wasn’t exactly verbose. But for a few minutes, I had the attention of a wiseguy whose list of crimes included arson, kidnapping, armed robbery, extortion, drug trafficking, basketball fixing, and accomplice to murder. I’m not trying to glorify anything that Henry Hill did, but that was a pretty heady moment for me. Even Ashley—who Googled Ray Liotta and acknowledged that he looked “vaguely familiar” at best (ugh…do NOT get me started!)—admitted it was pretty cool I did that.

So great, she wrote. You reached out to a notorious mob figure for cooking tips.

I mean, it sounds funny the way she worded that, but she’s not wrong. In case you can’t read the tiny print on the email, after gushing over Goodfellas, I asked Henry whether his partner-in-crime Paulie really used a razor blade to slice garlic into thin slivers so it would liquify in the pan before adding it to the pasta sauce, as depicted in the movie.

Henry Hill confirmed that this was no Hollywood fakery. That’s actually how they made their pasta sauce.

Naturally, the next time I made spaghetti, I broke out a razor blade and copied their technique. I can’t say I noticed any glaring difference, but I felt pretty cool doing that.

Two years after our brief conversation, Henry Hill died. And 10 years after that, Ray Liotta passed away.

RIP to two larger-than-life figures.

My weekend has already begun, and I couldn’t be happier. Four days off, man. Love it. After New Year’s Day, there’s that interminable five-month stretch without any holidays. Unless you’re Tara and get MLK Jr. Day and President’s Day off.

I am not Tara and I get neither.

But that’s water under the bridge now, and it couldn’t come at a better time! This work week has been absolutely insane. Yesterday, my boss was chatting with me at one point and said, “Well, it’s almost lunch time, so I’ll let you wrap things up.” I was amazed to see it was 10 minutes before noon. I’d have guessed maybe 9:30?

My official title is Communications Specialist, but really, I’m pretty much CenturyCo’s entire communications department. With input from others, of course, but the buck really does stop here. And with 300-odd employees and 32,000+ customers, there’s a lot of communicating to be done, as you might imagine. Everything from customer correspondence, bill stuffers, and ads to newsletter articles, press releases, and blog posts. Sometimes it seems never-ending.

And I love every minute of it.

Much of this week was devoted to planning out another business trip. This is our busiest time of year as we have begun planning our annual report. Normally, that involves interviewing five or six people and sharing their stories. This year, we’ve got nine people we want to talk to. Some for the annual report, others for newsletters and online stories. Rather than make multiple trips across the state, it makes sense to knock them all out in one fell swoop.

Do you have any idea how difficult it is to coordinate meetings with nine different companies across roughly 383 miles over the course of a few days?

I’ll tell you: very.

I spent a ton of time poring over maps, figuring out driving distances between towns, FACTORING IN TIME ZONES, and then contacting people in geographical order. The plan is to visit them without having to backtrack, and giving myself plenty of time to get from Point A to Point B (and C, D, E, F, G….).

By the end of today, I had six confirmed and two pending. That was good enough for me to make travel arrangements. This will be the longest business trip I’ve taken in many years—five days, Monday to Friday—but I’ll be coming back with so much material, we’ll be set for the rest of the year. I told Tara she will have a whole week to herself in mid-June. She was like, “I’ll miss you,” but isn’t too heartbroken. Hey, I get it. When she goes away on her own, I take advantage by cooking my favorite meals and watching whatever I want. Even the best marriages can benefit from a little time apart once in a while!

Anyway. Suffice it to say, I’ve earned this nice four-day reprieve. Tara and I took Friday off and are driving down to Fort Collins, Colorado for a weekend getaway. We’ve got concert tickets for Built to Spill and will have the opportunity to stock up at Trader Joe’s and our favorite liquor stores. We’ll be back Sunday evening and will still have a full day to recover.

Peace out!

34 thoughts on “The day a notorious mobster taught me how to make pasta sauce.

  1. That sounds like a lovely weekend.

    Ours has already started–Andy has tomorrow off and is making spring rolls AND pot stickers tonight.

    I had to watch GOODFELLAS in film school. More than once. And I didn’t even want to watch it once. It’s totally a guy film, hence all the accolades from guy critics.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Love Trader Joes! I thought Ray Liotta was extremely sexy in “Field of Dreams” and enjoyed his schtick in “Marriage Story.” I’m ashamed to say that I’ve never seen “Goodfellas.” He didn’t age well (heavy smoker?) and I’m assuming he had a sudden heart attack or stroke. Hope you have an excellent trip!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Trader Joe’s is the one thing we miss most about the PNW. Not the ocean…not the mountains…Trader Joe’s. Ha. So, we make it a point to swing down to Fort Collins (five hours by car) once or twice a year to stock up.


  3. Enjoy your weekend! Sounds like you two have a great plan!

    So, do you think the razor blade thing was really about thin slices? Or was it a mobster intimidation thing? Either way – so cool you reached out to a mobster in not so hidden witness protection! 🙂 What a great story!

    Happy Memorial Day!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Great question! I hadn’t thought about that before. But, it was just the bunch of them slicing garlic in a jail cell. There was nobody else to intimidate. Maybe it’s just their brutal nature.

      Happy Memorial Day to you and the kids, too!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love that you asked a mob guy for advice on garlic. Priceless!
    I was sad to hear of Liotta’s passing as well… although whenever I think of him that damn Hannibal movie comes to mind. Being served a slice of your sautéed brain for dinner is a hard image to forget.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve never seen Goodfellas, but I DO know who Ray Liotta is! Fun fact: I remember watching him on the soap Another World when I was just a kid. He was one of the main character’s son.

    Have fun at TJ and enjoy your time off.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I like your title: Communications Specialist. I sometimes feel like that when I write my blog. As for getting away from it all, lucky you. It’s been a shit show of a week. Enjoy your respite.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Guess Ray was pasta his prime. RIP.

    My wife and I drove past a Trader Joes the other day and I mentioned I hadn’t been in one. She was kinda “meh.” What do they have that makes out of staters so hot to check them out?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. High quality products at inexpensive prices. Lots of unique items you can’t find elsewhere. A typical shop for me includes frozen steel cut oatmeal, chile lime chicken patties, sweet potato crackers, everything but the bagel seasoning, and whatever else grabs my eye.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Getting an email from HH is seriously cool. I’m glad (?) you had the impetus to share that story with us. (I know that sounds way wrong.)
    This: I spent a ton of time poring over maps, figuring out driving distances between towns, FACTORING IN TIME ZONES, and then contacting people in geographical order. The plan is to visit them without having to backtrack, and giving myself plenty of time to get from Point A to Point B (and C, D, E, F, G….).
    is totally my dream! Pouring over maps, maximizing efficiency! That’s up there with packing a U-Haul!
    Man, I love packing boxes and U-Hauls. Finding the best way to fit as much in as possible…

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I must admit, I’ve never seen Goodfellas. I’d better get on that. Do we know what Ray Liotta died from? He was so young (for death, anyway).
    I have two Trader Joe’s near me but I don’t go that often because it’s just too damn tempting. So much good stuff. I probably go as often as you go to the one in CO. Enjoy your haul!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I’m glad you elaborated on the contents of your infamous email exchange, as I could not read a thing. Even after I enlarged it (insert old lady rolling eyes here). That is an enormously cool anecdote – one most people (other than your friend Ashley) would be thrilled with. Enjoy your long weekend. We have one coming up, ostensibly to celebrate Her Maj’s jubilee, but I suspect people are mostly rushing away to sunnier climes as it coincides with our school’s midterm break. We will be our usual anti-social selves I suspect, and will wield our cameras instead.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah…copy-and-paste does have its challenges depending on the size of the screen you’re copying and pasting from.

      Hope you’re enjoying/enjoyed your time off. Nothing wrong with sticking to the camera!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I’m always puzzled about why we idolise these brutal thugs… Sympathise about the meetings. I’m doing a charity challenge to find 125 different bird species this month and just working out where to go when to maximise my chances of something new is a real headache!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I certainly didn’t idolize him. But look at the women who marry serial killers, and what a big market there is for murderbilia. I’m not sure either why many in society become obsessed with evil!


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