Rarely do I write about food with only a recipe attached. There’s always a back story involving tradition, hospitality, family, and friends. Even if food prep means a tired mom or dad cobbling together leftovers to hurriedly get dinner on the table, it’s done to feed the hungry family, with love.
Isabelle Kelley, my mother-in-law, introduced me to Ring Tum Ditty. I was never sure of its spelling but I went along with it. An Internet search shows many variations of Ring Tum Ditty, but it’s usually a combination of inexpensive ingredients, tomatoes being one, and it’s meat free. It’s a simple dish Bella grew up on during the Depression, but more recently, something she made for her 11 children, most likely during Lent as a meat-less meal.
Bella didn’t rush when she prepared the ingredients with her delicate and feeble hands. Ring Tum Ditty is a comfort food and the secret’s in the Worcestershire Sauce.
The Last Memory of Ring Tum Ditty
Almost 10 years ago, I gathered the ingredients and called Bella thinking I might stop in during my lunch break, make some Ring Tum Ditty, and have a visit.
Oddly, my brother-in-law Mike answered the phone instead of Bella. I told him my lunch plan. In his usual way (he’s a fireman so he’s always steady and calm), he said, “What a nice idea, I know mom would like that but I am going to take her over to the hospital right now.”
Bella, in her 80s, never returned to her home after that day. Her 11 children all came to be with her and she passed away peacefully to join her husband in eternal life.
I’ve never forgotten that day tied up in the memory of a tomato soup-cheese-cracker combination. Every time I make the dish, I think of Bella, the big Kelley family, and being so darn lucky to be a part of it! It’s Lent, and Ring Tum Ditty makes its usual appearance.
Today’s writing is for all our departed loved ones and memories of good food, good times, and good people. Do you have a memory or recipe you would like to share? Respond to this blog or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bella’s Ring Tum Ditty
- 1 can Campbell’s®Tomato Soup, condensed version, mixed according to the directions on can
- 1-1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- Saltine crackers, about one cup in each bowl, or to taste
- Worcestershire Sauce®, to taste
Crumble saltine crackers in an individual soup bowl.
Pour hot soup over the crackers. Stir to absorb soup. Add more or less soup and/or crackers until desired consistency. Top with Worcestershire sauce and eat.
Yield: 2 servings