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.