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)