In bed and in the kitchen! But especially in the kitchen. Like so many busy people, I love delicious food but (despite my best intentions and local-vore tendencies), I just can’t bring myself to enjoy hours of preparation. Not to mention dishes. However, there is one dish that works for me every time. It’s fast, easy, fun, and totally delicious: pasta puttanesca.
What attracted me first to this dish is the name. “Puttanesca” is a beautiful Italian word that means, quite simply, whore. So puttanesca pasta is pretty much noodles in prostitute sauce! (There are a variety of tales attempting to explain this nomenclature. Among them two stand out. The first says puttanesca sauce came about because it is so fast to prepare, ladies of the night could whip it up and eat quickly between customers. The second, in contrast, says they cooked it in order to lure men in with the mouth-watering aroma of simmering sauce. Either way it is my favorite way to prepare pasta!)
Many better writers than I have illuminated the link between food and sex. My favorite is Isabel Allende’s tome of aphrodisiacs, Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses. (If you haven’t read this yet, buy it! She is as funny as she is wise, revealing history and personal memories of erotic experiences throughout the ages. Plus, the recipes are fantastic.) For me, however, it all comes together in a simple dish of puttanesca.
If you want an exact recipe, Google it; I guarantee you will find plenty of tasty variations. Basically it calls for anchovies (I prefer the little fillets, which I melt in olive oil first), olives (kalamata are my preference), capers (yum!), onion and garlic, and either whole canned or fresh tomatoes (I use whole canned, because they cook faster and have that nice saucy texture). Also, basil and – this is key! – red pepper flakes. Make the sauce, add al dente penne or linguine, finish cooking the pasta in the sauce, and dinner is served. Don’t forget some fresh grated Parmesan on top.
When I make puttanesca sauce I feel spicy, salty and tart, just like the dish. Food and sex and love all intertwine on the plate. It is a rare joy to come home with energy enough to make a real dish from scratch, instead of just heating up leftovers or popping a frozen pizza into the oven. (That happens, too, but my husband and I are trying to save those delicacies for the really bad days!) It’s wonderful to smell that delicious perfume of homemade sauce on the stove, knowing it will be ready in just a few minutes, to be enjoyed with a big glass of red wine and laughter.
Quick, dirty, and delicious. It is possible – it’s puttanesca!