Sep 212011

Today I felt like my life was missing something, and it was. It’s books – real ones, not the Star Trek version, Kindle or Nook. I wasn’t missing just any books or even new books, but the kind you find at the library: old books; much read books; cookbooks by out-of-favor authors; books checked out by school children and copied for book reports; travel books showing barren, sandy beaches that are now covered in high rises; books … So I saddled up the old Cadillac and went to the library.

I do a lot of research and almost all of it is on the internet. I am tired of logging onto the world wide web and finding the same answers to my questions repeated verbatim from website to website. Sister Marie Renee would have called that – plagiarism and sent them to the Principal, Sister Mary James, for a phone call (rotary dial of course) to their parents. Now, plagiarism is old hat and stupid data like the widely-varying smoke point of extra virgin olive oil can freely circle the world dressed as “truth”. Groan!

After renewing my library card and re-acclimating myself to the Dewey Decimal System I combed the shelves for treasures. In Fiction I found some Alexander McCall Smith books I had missed. In 398 I found Folklore and in 292, Classical (Greek & Roman) Religion. In 641 I found Food & Drink and Sophia Loren’s Recipes & Memories a/k/a 641.5945. I took them all for a 28-day visit to Chez Olive Crazy. Thank you Atlanta-Fulton County Public Library.

Here is Mrs. Ponti’s “Penne alla Puttanesca” or “Pasta Quills, Whore Style”. Yup that’s right. As the dear lady explains, it is quick to prepare and indicates vitality and gaiety. Apparently these are whoreish qualities of which many of us are guilty.

Makes 4 servings

1 lb penne
4 anchovy fillets, drained
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 to 3 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, chopped
1/2 c pitted black olives, drained, finely chopped
1 tbsp capers, drained
1/4 c Italian parsley, minced

Bring a large pot of water to boil, add a pinch of salt, and drop in the pasta.

In a mortar, use a pestle to pound the anchovies and garlic into a paste. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, then finely chop them. Heat the oil and butter in a pan, add the paste, and sauté for about 1 to 2 minutes over a medium heat. Add the tomatoes, olives, and capers, and cook for 15 minutes.

When the pasta is al dente, drain it and dress it with the sauce. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve.

May the sun shine through your branches.