Sicilian-Vegetarian-Homosexual Inspired Pasta

Many moons ago when I was a practising vegan, I attended a conference in the village of Erice, perched high on a hill/mountain in western Sicily. The conference handed out meal vouchers which one could exchange for food at any of the restaurants in the village. In the main piazza there was a restaurant called something like Edelweiss which had outdoor tables. It became my go to lunch place. I explained to the waiters that I was a vegan and a vegetarian, and they concluded that I must therefore be a homosexual and perhaps a rampant homosexual to boot. I did not agree with the diagnoses and suspected that it was wishful thinking on his part. There is a bit of a thing for “bears” amongst the gamine boys.

Anyway, they served me some pasta dishes that I have never had before, drawn from a palette of Sicilian lemon juice, pine nuts and the Arab inspired almonds. I have just knocked up some Sicilian inspired pasta, the wife reckons that she would have it again, or something roughly resembling it.

You will need for two people:

~340g of freshly made egg-based tagliatelle

One small red onion finely chopped.

One clove of garlic finely chopped.

A handful of fresh basil, lovingly grown in your greenhouse, rinsed and coarsely chopped.

Four medium sized vine tomatoes.

Sniff those puppies…yum

Put them is some boiling water and boil them a little until the skin pops. Add cold water to the pan until the tomatoes are cold. Take them out skin them and remove the green bits, near where the stalk was. Chop two into quarters and two into eighths. Put them in a bowl and capture that juice from the chopping board and add that to the bowl.

About a quarter of a tube of double concentrated tomato puree.

~ 50g of uncooked pine nuts and 25g of flaked almonds

Put these in a pestle and mortar and very roughly grind them up. You want some texture, so big bits and little bits. The little bits will thicken the sauce.

You will need a pinch of sea-salt

A teaspoon of sugar

And a good squirt of Sicilian lemon juice.

Oh, and by the way a good glug of some top notch Italian extra virgin olive oil.

Put the kettle on to boil ready for the pasta.

Now with as much panache as you can muster, add the olive oil dramatically to a small deep sided non-stick frying pan.

Put in the onions.

Turn on your induction hob under the pan and listen to the space age alien sounds it makes as you soften the onions over a medium heat.

When you think the onions are soft bung in the garlic and cook for about 1 minute.

Now chuck in the tomatoes otherwise that garlic will burn.

Stir gently and turn down the heat a tad.

Soon you should have a nice bubbling pan, smelling fine.

Cook the tomatoes for around three minutes. They should start to soften but the idea is to keep intact juiciness. You want a lump of tomato explosion.

Add the tomato puree and stir.

Like all good cooks you will no doubt have a glass of wine on the go. Take this and add a good slurp to the pot, it does not matter if it is red or white.

Have a well-earned sip of wine…

Add the nut mixture and stir well

Taste.

It probably needs some sugar and some salt.

Bung these in.

Taste

Ok, maybe it needs some more acidity…

Add a squirt of lemon juice.

Taste.

Enough?

If not add a little more.

The mixture should thicken slightly.

Read the instructions of the tagliatelle.

Put it onto cook, mine said 3-4 minutes.

When the pasta is boiling add the basil to the sauce and stir.

Test the pasta. OK?

If so turn off the sauce drain the pasta and dress it with the nutty-tomato homosexual Sicilian inspired sauce…

Enjoy…

Malta, Sicily and Déjà Vu

The dream which I had this morning is consistent with the hypothesis of my putative life, two lifetimes ago. This life was based in France but had elements of travel to the Holy Land for purposes of crusade and the acquisition of knowledge.

In this lifetime I was an ordained priest, a scholar and also a trained warrior. I was very often accompanied by the same man who was my confidant and assistant. His name was Cédric. The life involved sailing from somewhere near Perpignan on occasion, but was based further North, in a green land and near a watermill. There was a small village, a church and a mill race. When the normal village priest was away on business, I would stand in for him at the church.

As a child when I flew from Zambia to boarding school in England it was customary and necessary to stop on the way for fuel. On my first such flight, barely aged 10 by a day or so, we landed in Malta at dawn. I woke my mother who was taking me that first time to school and remarked at the beauty of the dawn over Malta. I was also having a truly massive attack of déjà vu. Somehow, I knew this place. I have been back a couple of times as a tourist. It feels so darned familiar. A similar baseball bat strike of déjà vu hit me when I went to Erice in Sicily for the first time. Bam! I have been here before…Bam!

Visions possibly associated with this life broke through a little after the Buddhist ones. There was an arrival by sea to Malta. There was study on the misty mountain top at Erice. I was in some kind of liaison role and for whatever reason I was generally acceptable to both the “Arabs” and the Jewish kabbalists, from whom we sought knowledge.

All was fine until one time me and a small band of fellow travellers got captured by a rogue group and paraded through the town, virtually naked. They took our chain mail and our white tunics with the rosy cross. It was a sea-front town, a small port, which they had recently captured. Everywhere there were torches burning some kind of dense tar like substance. The smell was powerful, almost noxious, the noise of celebration and “music” was loud. They led us down to a beach. There was much argument about what to do with us. They tied us to makeshift wooden crosses. They lit a big fire on the beach. They then inverted the crosses and placed them in the sand. They only did a few of us like this. The others sat huddled, praying and watched.

They, our captors, danced around the fire whooping and hollering in victory. The smell of the tar, the bitumen, burning was intense. It was difficult to remain conscious upside down. So, I drifted in and out.

When they were bored of the dancing they came over to us swearing, mocking and cursing. My wounds sustained in the capture were unstitched and much blood had run out of me. They prodded us with spears to antagonise, not to puncture. Some whipped us. The frenzy of the torment raised up a notch and they started to break the skin. They slit my throat. I can feel it now.

Soon I was above the beach looking down. I could see the fires and the half-crazed victors. I saw them moving towards the others and then I looked up and there were stars. Lots of stars.

The smell was at last gone.