Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Book Review: I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti
I was in the library browsing through the cookbooks and came across this booked titled: I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti by Giulia Melucci. I did a little chuckle and thought, "Wow, I could've wrote a book like this". After all, which of us hasn't loved, lost and made spaghetti? Although this book was written mostly for a female audience, there are elements of it that we can all relate to.
The author, Giulia Melucci, was born and raised in Brooklyn, and describes her mother as an excellent Italian cook. She is an educated and accomplished woman who was previously the VP of PR for Harper's Magazine.
This book is a memoir highlighting twenty years of dating in New York City. Along the way, Giulia addresses her love of food and how she relies on food to help her seduce men, smooth over the rocky patches in relationships, and comfort herself during heartbreak. The men are fleeting, but the food is constant.
Poor Giulia is rather unlucky in love. She dates almost every type of man along the way: artist, lawyer, banker, and writer, kind and unkind, ready to commit and afraid of commitment. Along the way, Giulia finds culinary inspiration in each new relationship, cooking to express her love.
I thought I would be able to relate to the author about love and loss, but found that I had a hard time doing so. At times, she comes across as desperate and willing to put up with all sorts of shenanigans (alcoholic boyfriends, men with one thing on their mind, and downright mooches). At other times, she seems blinded by love. Poor Giulia gets her heart broken over and over again. Some of the heartbreak is a little difficult to read about.
What I did relate to was her love of cooking. Giulia's book helped me to realize why I've come to love cooking so much. Cooking is the one constant in Giulia's life, just as it is in all of our lives. We cook with love in our hearts, both because we love to cook and we love those we cook for. Our passion for cooking guides us through all our ups and downs and is there for us no matter what, pushing us in new directions and taking us on new adventures. Cooking is a way for us to feel close to others who are no longer with us, just as it is a way for us to bond and make new relationships. You can be young or old, wealthy or poor, intelligent or not; none of this matters because cooking comes from the heart. We all have the same freedom in the kitchen. Cooking is what gives us peace, it is where we feel comfortable, it is what calms us, but mostly it is a way of sharing our heart.
There are many recipes peppered throughout the book, mostly Italian-inspired. I chose the First-Date Butterflies because I thought the name was extremely clever. Giulia whips up a batch of these First-Date Butterflies to bring herself back to earth after a particularly steamy first date.
*Adapted from I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti by Giulia Melucci*
Serves 2 or 1, with enough for lunch the next day
2 cups (4 ounces) farfalle
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
pinch red hot pepper flakes
1 (6 ounce) can tuna packed in olive oil (essential) - I subbed chicken
1 tablespoon capers
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons dry white wine
splash olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
Freshly ground pepper
Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. This sauce is so quick and easy, you can make it while the pasta is cooking. When the water is boiling rapidly, add a large dose of salt and the pasta, then cover the pot until the water is boiling rapidly again. Uncover the pot and give it a few good stirs.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat, add the onion and hot pepper, and saute until translucent, about 2 minutes. Open the can of tuna and drain as much of the oil as possible (I do this by pressing the disengaged top of the can against the tuna over the sink with as much force as I can muster). Add the tuna(or chicken) to the onions, then the capers, the salt and the wine. Lower the heat and cook until the pasta is ready.
Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet with the tuna(or chicken), add a splash of olive oil, the chopped parsley, and a few grindings of black pepper.
Notes/Results: Giulia ate very well for a single girl! This pasta was nothing like the ramen noodles that graced my stove as a young single girl. The sauce was delicious and delicate with a salty bite from the capers which I really enjoyed. I would make this again, especially since all the ingredients can be pulled from the pantry.
"There is logic and order to cooking. What you put into it has everything to do with what you get out of it. With love, it's not so cut-and-dried." - Giulia Melucci