One magnum bottle of Bordeaux, a few six-packs of Kronenbourgs and a couple of great conversations over great meals later, I found myself reflecting on what she’d said; that “We could cook together,” and that, “It’ll be fun.”
There is so much about food. I would never try to take that away from you. If there is anyone I know who gets that; that food is for more than its function of consumption, it’s me. Food finds us in one of our most creative minds, tears can come on from discovering a new way of putting together three of your favourite flavours, whether it be during the cooking process or even just in the manner of presentation. The discussions with people who also get this are the conversations you over-indulge in as you throw back-and-forth how you could puree goats cheese with cumin and mix incredibly thinly sliced raw cabbage through it.
And then friends come along after a thirty-hour plane ride from the lower part of the globe where the world turns under itself, and food becomes about so much more than everything you had recently thought it was. And you think to yourself; how far had we allowed food to fall from its intended pleasures?
The evening started with a bottle-opener being used to crack walnuts, then we moved on to a crispy sticky baguette with cheese that if you had three friends with you, you could finish off the entire slab. The magnum was cracked open, glasses were poured by cocktail-making-genesis-friend, tomatoes were blanched, pealed and deseeded by three woman who took the leap over to the unfolded part of the world, spaghetti that had been made in our neighbouring country was cooked in salted water, chili and garlic were finely diced and then on our new National holiday we sat out on the balcony with our plates on our laps to watch a casual evening of two men in dreads from our local Parisian gang, Klap, be arrested on their raft in the middle of the canal.
Eating together is not over rated. Because she said, “We could cook together,” and that, “It’ll be fun,” and it was everything she said it would be. And I am becoming even more convinced that food was not only created to maintain life, but also to enhance it, through its sneakiness of always drawing people towards it, and therefore to each other.
Filled with Flavour and Balcony Worthy Tomato Spaghetti
Adapted from Bill Granger’s original recipe
1.5kg vine ripened tomatoes
1 Tbsp salt
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 lemon juice & zest
4 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 medium red chili, finely diced
freshly ground black pepper
packet of spaghetti
bouquet of basil
100g shaved parmesan cheese
Score the bottoms of all the tomatoes and them place in a large pot. Boil some water and pour it over the tomatoes making sure they are completely covered. After a minute or so, drain the water. We were blessed with fearless Laney who laughs in the face of boiling water, therefore she plunged both hands in to the pot removing each tomato and pealing it with her bare hands. You will not be blessed with such enthusiasm. Therefore, carefully remove the tomatoes from the pot, leave them on a chopping board for a few seconds too cool and then peal them, tear the flesh off making sure to throw the seeds away. Dice up the tomato flesh and place it all together in a sieve resting over a bowl. Sprinkle and mix through 1 Tbsp salt and leave for thirty minutes the drain. Discard the liquid once ready.
Meanwhile, in a separate bowl add the olive oil, vinegar, lemon, garlic, chili and pepper. Once the tomatoes are ready, add them to the bowl, mix well and leave for twenty minutes to infuse each flavour with every other flavour.
Cook the spaghetti al dente and then drain well. Put the spaghetti back in the pot, pour over the tomato mixture, basil and mix well. Taste and season accordingly and then platter up with more basil and parmesan on the side.