I got a wonderful introduction (and, as time went on, an in-depth education). As the latest scientific research has now confirmed, my instructor got it exactly right. You have to take it slow. The basic method is simple, although there’s a little trick to it. You brown a smallish piece of meat, along with a bit of onion, in the pot, using the best extravirgin olive oil you can find. Then you add a tablespoonful of chopped or crushed tomatoes, and simmer it slowly until it turns dark brown. Then another spoonful. Wait til the color is right, then another spoonful. When you’ve got the right quantity, remove the meat and keep simmering. Eight hours later, you’ve got it. Cook the pasta, pour the ragu on it, and your health and happiness are significantly advanced.
Yes, a bit of parmigiano or pecorino is welcome.
For those of you who read Italian, there’s a fine Marxist history of Neapolitan cuisine with the intriguing title “From leaf eaters to maccheroni eaters,” which is a fascinating social history of early modern and modern food in this fascinating city.
When you’re done eating your ragu, have a nice espresso and laugh. You’ve delivered a blow to the belly of the beast.