The Spinaccio

My Italian is merely basic, I can order cappuccino when in Rome or Florence and una altra bottiglia di vino rosso e panna cotta per tutti at dinner, but that’s it more or less, so I’m not sure if the Italian name for my newly invented dish is even correct: ravioli in brodo all’olio di olive con spinaci e mozzarella—therefore I named it “The Spinaccio!”. But correct or not, it describes very well how it is prepared. Go ahead and try for yourselves, you won’t regret it. At least, I hope so… nulla è garantito, as they say in Italy.

Spaghetti all’eternità.

Many, many years ago, I was still at university, my parents spent some time in Rome, they visited churches, had gelati and Campari, once settled in, they still had gelati and Campari, but visited fewer churches – dolce far niente, what can I say – and wanted to move as soon as possible, which is quite understandable, in my opinion, people who don’t want to move to Rome when in Rome are not to be trusted, or are they? Anyway, at that time, a former colleague of theirs was living in Rome as a correspondent for a German newspaper, the Süddeutsche Zeitung, and invited them over to his place where he changed my mother’s life forever: he made the first spaghetti my mother would not only tolerate, but would prepare in the exact same way as soon as she was back home. You have to know that my mother’s spaghetti bolognese were actually quite good, as a child I even loved them, but she would never have some herself, too boring, she’d say, Klaus’ spaghetti all’amatriciana, however, were different, they were sensational, all that bacon, the fresh sage, the chillies, the grated pecorino, all that was much more to my mother’s liking, she brought home vast amounts of DeCecco pasta, the brand Klaus used, in these days totally unknown in Germany, totally, I very much blame Klaus for that brand’s international success, and the design and colour combo of their packaging at that time, yellow and turquoise, which I loved, but that’s another story, anyway, for these last 25 years, we’ve had this dish over and over again, it’s still called The Roman Recipe, and I have absorbed it so well, one might say, it’s part of my DNA. What can I say, everything Roman seems to be eternal.

Dinner at eight (y-eight)

88 degrees Fahrenheit in May, or wait, it’s June now, anyway, 88 degrees Fahrenheit this time of year are, well, what are they? My mind has gone blank, that’s for sure. I can’t think straight. This heat is killing me. Totally. Gotta face the facts. So, for my last supper before extinction I decided to have insalata caprese, my own version of it at least, it’s kind of a messy version, very messy, I mix it all up, the mozzarella, the basil, the tomatoes, il Tricolore in a bowl, so to say. With some olive oil from Sicily and crushed pepper from some place else. Anyway, as you can’t have water with an Italian dinner—food iconoclasm, I say!—I opened a bottle of wine, a fine wine at that, admittedly not from Italy, no Chianti or Brunello di Montalcino, but a fine wine from Bordeaux, a claret as the Brits say, a 2005 St.Émilion Grand Cru, some Château Peyreau—or was it Peyraux, or Peyreaux? Who knows, it’s pronounced all the same anyway—just to cherish summer in spring, high spirits for high temperatures—I’ve told you, my brain has gone soft. Anyway, cheers and buon appetito for now, and as soon as temperatures drop, I’m back. Promise.