April 01, 2010


I pulled the beast from the shelf. Heavy. This thing is so heavy. My wrists buckled.

I placed a folded towel on the counter. I picked up the beast once again and placed it on the towel. It didn't move. It wouldn't move. 

I fed the beast pine nuts. More than a heaping spoon. With pestle I rolled and mashed the pine nuts around in its belly.

Summer lay suspended in the aluminum pot. Three cubes of pesto (a base for pesto,anyway). Extra virgin olive oil, salt, garlic, basil. In time, July 20, 2009 would melt, but not without a little coaxing.

I placed the aluminum pot on the burner. The flame kicked low.

Once again I lifted the beast and carried it to the sink. There I would bath it in warm soapy water.

Washed and dried, it sat on another towel. I wondered how much it weighed. I pulled the scale from the bathroom and lifted the beast once again. 15 1/2 lbs. It certainly feels heavier than that.

I carried the beast back to the shelf and slid it back into place.

2009 had melted. July 20 was all that remained. I stirred in a bit more oil.

Moments passed. July 20 had melted. I stirred in the mashed pine nuts. Cracked in some black pepper and a dash of salt. I stirred once again. This is ready.

The water was set to boil. The pasta was measured out. Yesterdays Parmesan was cycled out of its receptacle and placed into a separate bowl. New Parmesan was pulled over the grate to refill. We don't mix today's with yesterdays. It's just not done.

"Can I drop the pasta?" I yelled up the stairs.

"Yeah!" He yelled down the stairs.

The water was salted. I dropped the linguine. Nine minutes later I pulled a cup of the pasta water and drained the pasta. Placed back into the pot, I dropped in the pesto, a good bit of water and stirred. More cracked pepper and another stir.

Pasta nests in bowls. More cracked pepper at the table and heaps and heaps of Parmesan. A poke, twirl, stir and everything is just so.

A few bites down, a drink of water, a drink of wine, a few more sprinkles of Parmesan.

"How was your day?" He asked.


  1. Soon, once again, we will be bathed in summer; and pesto 2010 will become a reality--to be enjoyed and savored, and, hopefully, some tucked away for winter 2011. Enjoy!

  2. Your pictures are wonderful. Pasta with pesto is simple but so delicious when it's fresh and you use quality ingredients. I can't wait to rediscover the flavours of the summer again either.

  3. Sigh. I don't think I ever end one of your posts NOT smiling. :-)

  4. I think we are twins, seperated at birth. I call mine 'the beast' as well. I now keep it on the counter top because if I put it away on a shelf I can't ever lift it down. But I love it. And I love pesto. I have nursed my cute little basil plant which sits happily on my window sill, giving me fresh leaves all winter long.

  5. I can see why you call it the beast but, it is a beautiful thing.

    Pesto (sigh), I love it. Is Summer here yet when my garden runneth over with basil? Looking forward to those days.

  6. It looks gorgeous! Wrestling with the beast was worth it!

  7. Ah the beast, I have one of those, the heavy little devils. I hate washing it, it's always a battle between it and my fingers and it always seems to win! Lovely pesto.

  8. I so need a beast. My mortar is far too small. I need a big burly guy, like yours, the beast I mean, not Roberto...

  9. That is a beast and I am jealous (covet) we have a quite nice glass one but it is not beastly enough. You are very organised with those lovely cubes of summr basil, I should learn from you. It is so rainy in Rome, a shock after lots of spring days both here and in London, We are under house arrest with chocolate. Happy easter - Buona Pasqua e Auguri to you both.

  10. I have a similar beast... they do make the best pesto!

  11. Michele - We're already thinking about this summer's harvest of basil. It's an overwhelming thought, but we'll be stocked up with pesto through the winter once again, so we won't complain.

    Vanessa - We eat pesto about once a week. It's our easy-go-to dinner. So delicious, but I can't wait to have the smell of fresh basil on my fingers.

    Tart - That's a sweet thing to say. :)

    Katie - We had a few basil plants on our kitchen sill that rooted in water that we carried from Summer through December. Unfortunately they were taken over by nasty little bugs. Fresh basil in winter from one's own kitchen is the best.

    Velva - We're looking forward to rows and rows of basil as well.

    red - I win every time. :)

    Kath - I'm always worried about the beast smashing my fingers or worse, the beast falling out of my hands onto the tile...and breaking the tile. Ugh. What a thought!

    Denise - :)

    rachel - Hope you had a lovely Easter weekend. Being under house arrest with chocolate sounds nice to me. :)

    Magda - They are lovely, our beasts.

  12. 15 1/2 lbs! Che brava to handle that monster!

    I shall have to make pesto with the Bear's Garlic that is growing wild in the woods now. First harvest here, and oh so tasty!

    The first spring food always make me long for Rome - we used to go collect wild asparagus in the Roman countryside on Sunday mornings. Then cook asparagus omelette and eat it with friselle soaked in a bit of water and rubbed with fresh tomatoes (one of our friends was from the Abruzzi region and she always brought those deliicious fresh friselli, twice baked whole wheat bread that looks like a bagel sliced in half).

  13. I wanted to write that the friend was from the Apulia region, that's were the friselle originally came from. Sorry!

  14. I love how fresh and summery pesto is. So natural, herbal, healthy yet rich and tasty. Full of memories of summers past, and many yet to come :)

  15. "summer lay suspended in an aluminum pot." lovely writing.

    I remind myself that now is the time to use all the goodies that we put up last year...


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