Linguine with Cremini and Thyme
I ripped open the brown paper bag. The mushrooms smelled of the earth. Fresh, with bits of dirt still clinging. Memories flood. I'm running with my friends into the woods. A fort comprised of an open area of dirt, maybe 10' x 10' surrounded by pine trees, large rocks and moss, moss everywhere. Cool, green and still. Echos of birds chirping, the feel of tree bark as I swing on a low hanging limb. Tiny hands, scuffed sneakers, a huge imagination, long summer days.
'Is there any thyme?' I ask. 'Can you bring in some thyme and parsley?' I request. Roberto brings in a few healthy sprigs of thyme and an anemic bunch of parsley from the garden.
Our parsley has seen better days. It will not last much longer. I take what he's brought in and proceed to wash it. We're prepping tonight's supper. I've just rinsed the mushrooms. They're on the counter next to the sink, drying on a double layer of paper towel. I soak the thyme under the the cool stream of water coming from the tap.
The water is slowly coming up to a boil as Roberto starts to fill the skillet with olive oil, red pepper flakes, shallot and garlic. The mushrooms get sliced. The parsley gets chopped. The thyme gets stripped from it's sprig. I'm dancing around the kitchen with my camera, setting up shots, setting the table, and opening a bottle of red wine. A Malbec from Argentina. It's dry. A nice companion for the pasta we're having tonight.
The water's ready. It's been salted and the linguine breaks the surface. I quickly move it about with tongues to prevent sticking. The skillet is humming with activity. The mushrooms, just sprinkled with salt are beginning to sweat. A nice glug of white wine interrupts, followed by ladles of pasta water. The smell is amazing.
We take turns watching over the pasta and the mushrooms. Almost to the window, we throw in the thyme, a bit of parsley and an espresso cups worth of cream. The pasta, pulled from the water with tongues, beds with the mushrooms where it will finish cooking.
Some turns of pepper and additional parsley before I begin to plate. Roberto is waiting with a damp rag, cleaning up after me as I twist and drop the pasta into place, the splatter of liquid from the skillet turning our counter top into a Jackson Pollack.
We spoon on generously the parmigiana. Our forks in pasta making like pitchforks in hay trying to distribute things evenly. I spin a mouthful of linguine around the tines of my fork, capping it with a few bits of mushroom. Once everything hits my tongue, my eyes close and my head shakes in disbelief. 'This tastes so good' I say. 'It's the thyme' Roberto says. I agree.
I'm so engrossed in the bowl of pasta before me. When I finally look up I realize I have yet to take a sip of wine or water. Entranced by pasta once again.