I blame my abiding prejudice against fresh pasta on the world wide television coverage of the spaghetti harvest of 1957 . The sight of those vermicular strands, hanging limply from the branches in the unusually monochomatic region of the Ticino has remained embedded in the not so dark recesses of my mind. Because of this, on entering a pasticerria, I am immune to the temptation posed by the serried ranks of trays piled high with carefully formed serpentine coils of pappardelle, linguine and tagliatelle, all freshly cut from the tree. The choice between the fresca and the secca is as clear to me as the finely cut edge of the penne in the picture. The penne having dropped, I can now confess to having written this bollocks because I had found a similarity between the nib like pasta tube and a feather quill whilst I was making a particularly good and simple pasta dish with that very same pasta.
This is a comforting dish which is not a comforting term. It is, in truth, a very annoying term as are most terms that describe the pleasure that we take in the taste of good food which is because of our failure to instantly pluck suitable vocabulary from the ether and which is why I so often have recourse to profanity, whose origins are steeped in pleasure, to press home to the reader just how much enjoyment such and such a mouthful has afforded me. I found this recipe on the blog of the food writer, Rachel Roddy; on the day in question the larder was very nearly bare but I happened to have a lone aubergine that was clearly waiting for the opportunity to impress. Even at those moments when my larder is in that state of undress there is always olive oil, tomatoes, onions and garlic…and coffee….so the aubergine had friends with whom it could combine in its efforts to impress. The dish that I made and which features in the picture above is not identical to the recipe that you will find in the link to Rachel Roddy’s blog; recipes such as this are but a guide, not an instruction manual. The flavours of this simple pasta and vegetable dish perfectly complemented the moment when I ate it in the shade of one of our olive trees, laden with fruit, in the early September sun…a sunlight which warms when one is directly in the path of its rays but, should one stray into the shade, it becomes instantly clear that the residual heat of summer sun, to which one has become pleasantly accustomed, has stealthily departed leaving one in no doubt that change is upon us.