cooking with my hat on…..


When the stars make you drool just like pasta fazool, that’s amore: no it’s not. What it is is pasta e fagioli but even though Dean Martin was Italian, Italians in America become American after quite a short time which entails a naturalisation test, which you must spell with a “z”, and a severe reduction in syllables. If Dean Martin ever cooked..I’d be surprised, but, if he did, he’d cook pasta fazool because fagioli has too many syllables and, more importantly, does not rhyme with drool; and he’d wear a hat. Eaters of pasta fazool always wore hats. Tony Soprano and his fellow goodfellows wore hats even when cooking pasta in prison or, after naturalization, in the monosyllabic can.

Hats were on my mind this cold morning; indeed, one was on my head. A February morning in a cold kitchen in the Northern hemisphere is a test of the human spirit. Its days being slightly longer and its nights that bit shorter allow the subliminal suggestion to creep into our subconscious that the good times are about to roll whereas all that is about to roll is heads, or head colds, unless there’s a hat on them. February is 28 days of treachery and disappointment. It is known as a leap year in memory of all the people who have metaphorically leaped into the slough of despair on that quadrennial red letter day 29. Food is a way out of February: cooking deep flavoured dishes that will take our minds to places that aren’t February which thought leads directly to my book shelves where I can enjoy the foreplay of leafing through favourite books in search of today’s panacea. Some twenty years ago the wonderfully talented Alastair Little published his “Italian Kitchen” which I recently bought on Amazon for 1 pence; which is sad in that the insatiable hunger for new cookery books renders them worthless within days of publication, but joyful in that I could afford it…pace Alastair. That he is a renowned chef is a given but I am drawn to the cook and the writer in him. A small chapter about Pasta Fagioli included pasta e ceci, pasta e lenticche, pasta e patate and, of course, pasta e fagioli which was what I then realised was my ticket to ride out of February. His version takes time and care which is, for me,  the heart and soul of cooking.

Taken from “Alastair Little’s Italian Kitchen” ( recipes from La Cacciata – his cookery school)


About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
This entry was posted in 2017, Alistair Little, beans, Cookery Writers, Cooking, Digital photography, Excellence, food, Food and Photography, Food photographer, Herbs and Spices, Humour, Italian food, Olive oil, Parmesan, pasta, pasta e fagioli, Photography, photography course, Photography holiday, Recipes, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to cooking with my hat on…..

  1. Mad Dog says:

    Never mind pasta fazool, what about Notre Dame? However, the Americanisation (apparently) comes from the Neapolitan language – pasta e fasule.
    February is a good time to be chained to stove – lots of comfort food and warmth. Your pasta e fagioli looks delicious!

  2. Your first paragraph had me laughing! Lovely dish!

  3. Your title brought to mind Tom Jones’ “You can leave your hat on…” 🙂 The pasta looks delicious and warming. Which given the snow we have, it would be perfect.

  4. I know I shouldn’t mind, but as I was bought up speaking Italian as a second language I do still cringe when people ask for a “lar-tay” (that’s just milk…duh!) or a “panini” (that’s plural, so you’re asking for two bread rolls!). But hey, as I climb down from my high-ish horse, I can appreciate recipes like this which my aunties in the poor south of Italy cooked regularly for reasons of economy…perfect comfort food!

  5. jmcheney says:

    February is the looonnngggeesssstttttt month. And sometimes even lllooonnnggggerrrrrrr! Gimmmeee some pasta fazultepec!

    • It’s definitely the least favourite month….it’s as though nature stuck it in just to make sure we’re well and truly fed up with winter before letting the buds appear. We’re on the edge of a forest and I wait for that delicate tone of green to suddenly be present in the branches…:)

  6. Francesca says:

    I’m with Chica. I hate that Lar tay thing that people use here in Australia too. Americans managed to stuff up Italian nicely, but then they do so with the English language as well. Speaking of nice Pommes who cook, I can never get over the way your Jamie pronounces pasta with a flattened out ‘a’ sound. Why didn’t he learn correct pronunciation when he hung out with that Gennaro fellow? I have also heard quite a few English folk, ( I know that you are no longer one now Rogier unless that Brexit move forces you to abandon your new home) pronounce Dante with an ‘o’ sound, like Don Tay!!!!
    The wearing of hats is back in fashion in all seasons. I am in search of a good Borsalino for mio marito.

    • Hey, I’d completely forgotten Borsalino..wonder if I’ll find it on Netflix. Back to language…very little good English is spoken even in England now. Something that I’ve found in France is that, once one has got over the regional accents, there is an immense pride in their language. I am corrected continually but in a polite way….if they think you can speak French then they would like you to speak it correctly.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.