March 09, 2010

Tuesday Supper

I am not fond of the light. It is murky. Concealing. Winter. Please draw to a close soon. My evening photos are suffering.

Willing and able, I had emailed Roberto mid-afternoon, Tuesday.

Pasta with anchovies?

Sounds good! :)

I was chewing. A moment, a sudden moment, my face is puckering. Mouth drawn down as I fight to traverse the salty mine field that is my tongue.

"Is that salt I'm tasting?"

Roberto stabs the anchovy, curled around a bloated caper. "That's salt." He says while chewing.

The tin of anchovies we inherited will do for tonight's pasta, but they must be rinsed. Half end up in the pan. Half end up on a plate to be eaten secondi with slices of baguette and aged Provolone.

Our reality is quite simple. We eat. We come home, peel off the work layer, prep dinner. We eat. We eat pasta. All else comes second. Our routine is steady and true, no matter the time of day or day we've had. All dramas are aired, wine is consumed, bellies are filled. We eat.

It is pasta. So many variations, iterations. Never complicated. Always sublime. Constantly restocking the olive oil, Parmesan, and boxes of dried Barilla, De Cecco, or other. Tuesday lunch was spent traversing the shelves at the local grocer. I came home with five boxes of linguine. We eat over a half pound this night. Those five boxes won't last long. Our affection for linguine runs deep. It's ever so versatile and cooks in about 9 minutes (Barilla).

I tie one on. Of course I am speaking of my apron, which is quite dirty for so early in the week. Water and wine glasses are arranged in front of plates. Forks are placed on cloth napkins. Pasta bowls are set on the back burner to absorb heat from the pot of boiling water.

"Is there cheese?"

"Yes, there's cheese."

Cheese being the freshly grated Parmesan. We are in a state of perpetual grate, filling the tiny Parmesan receptacle made of stainless steel, a fugitive from Italy two trips ago thanks to Roberto's father.

There's a mise en place of shallot, garlic, crushed red pepper, lemon, white wine, parsley, anchovies, green onion.

A fistful of linguine splays out in a tall drinking glass, waiting for it's evening swim in the salty waters of Baltimore boiling tap.

I'm counting down.

"45 seconds to the window."

Roberto pulls al dente linguine from the water, straight to the pan. A stir, a shake, a flip.

"Some water." He says.

I ladle a scoop into the pan.

"Pepper." He says.

I crack black pepper into the pan.

"Parsley, just a pinch." He says.

He is plating and I want to shoot the strands of linguine holding onto dear life, dripping lemon scented anchovy liquor into the waiting bowls. But my battery is running low. I must conserve.

Roberto sits patiently as I aim and shoot.

"Just one more." I say.

"Just one more." I say again.

While ingredients are called upon again and again, they retreat into beauty and nuance with each turn. Linguine with anchovies does not taste the same as spaghetti with anchovies, you see.

We shall never tire.


  1. Despite not liking anchovies, you make it sound so good and worth a try!

  2. I'm ready for some evening light as well. I don't mind shooting with my big flash (no onboard flashes at the Ratskellar) but it's becoming tiring. I want some evening natural light!

  3. the light is shifting, though...soon, soon, very soon more evening light.

    yes, the variations are endless---with texture alone. and then, the assortment of simplest ingredients: favored oils, salt, cheese...happily, we'll never tire!

  4. I am so coming tonight!
    I'll seat there in a corner of your place, will remain silent and will just enjoy the ballet of you two cooking!

  5. I love lightly-sauced pastas, as they beg for really high-quality pasta and minimal preparation. This has inspired me to try combining a lemon spaghetti recipe with some anchovy--I feel they would go well together.

  6. Brilliant, I love your passion for pasta! It makes me smile, especially that last bit about linguine and spaghetti.

  7. sweet and simple....exactly what I like....
    love your passion for pasta....having Italian husband makes it easy (I guess??)
    nice post.... and your pictures are not suffering, they're just fine :-)

  8. Absolutely beautiful! I have four tins of anchovies at home that have been waiting for something lovely. This, THIS is lovely. :-)

  9. Geoffrey - The anchovies melt away. You won't even notice them.

    Beth - I refuse the flash! :)

    Nancy - Tonight it was a simple red sauce over penne...

    Elisabelle - You are invited anytime. Funny, I was wearing ballerina slippers today. :)

    Elizabeth - We were heavy with the lemon last night. It worked very well, indeed.

    Kath - Funny, I didn't know how big my passion for pasta was until I started writing this blog. :)

    M. - Being surrounded by Italians helps a great deal. They are a passionate people. Thanks. :)

    Tart - You need a good hearty plate of pasta. I'd say crack open a tin this weekend! :)

  10. You blog is delightful & those photos are true food porn! I love anchovies & how you use them & your description of your day makes the meal that much more enjoyable. Looking forward to your next post - thanks for sharing:)

  11. You share the love of pasta quite well, my dear. Tonight we enjoyed ours with pesto and lemon!

  12. I think this might be my favorite of your posts so far -- wonderful writing.

  13. Stephanie – Thanks for your words and for stopping by. I appreciate it. :)

    Sprout – You may have inspired dinner tonight. We have a ton of frozen pesto cubes that we need to work our way through before this years basil harvest takes over the kitchen once again. :)

    Julie - Thank you. :)

  14. I have to admit something, I'm afraid of anchovies. How can I conquer this fear?

  15. More pasta peotry and a most delicous supper. I am looking forward to some spaghetti after a few days of excellent but very english food. Rome is dark and heavy again, I need light too.
    going to buy anchovies.

  16. just stumbled upon your blog and love it! and funny, i just posted about a pasta dish w/anchovies. we love them. and i hear you on missing natural light, though your photos are still lovely.

  17. "Winter. Please draw to a close soon. My evening photos are suffering."
    Hehe ain't that the truth for all of us!

    By the way, I am an anchovy fan!


  18. Lindsey - That's a hard one. Anchovies are quite potent. Perhaps try introducing small amounts into dishes. Just enough to yield some flavor, but not overwhelm the dish. Baby steps and repetition. :)

    rachel - Ah, pasta withdrawal. I understand that feeling well. :)

    carolyn - Thank you. I must check out your blog as well. :)

    Magda - I'm happy to see so many fans of the anchovy. They are wonderful!

  19. love pasta with anchovies! Sometimes I use toasted breadcrumbs instead of cheese...its traditional in Italy.
    Amelia from


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