Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sicilian Style Spaghetti - With Lots of Meat and Garlic

I shall never look at Spaghetti the same way again.

Not after reading Lily Pryor's La Cucina : A Novel of Rapture, for the Cook the Books Novel Book Club's challenge this month.

You see, Spaghetti for the Filipinos is a dish for kids. This is a common dish in children's parties. The Filipino version is sweet style with sliced hotdogs and lots of sauce. And the kids really love it!

However, the La Cucina book is definitely R rated - definitely not for kids.

The book is sensual, sexy, sensous, earthy, passionate, emotional, intense, livid. Lily Prior is a very good writer. She writes with such passionate words that the reader cannot help but "feel" the book. She brings you to intense emotional highs and lows, so exciting that you cannot put the book down. You will be eager to know what happens next...

However, I think this book is for mature women (and men) who understands that this is pure fiction. While reading the book, you feel the excitement of the character Rosa, her ups and downs, her experiences, her world of reality and fantasy. That is how you suspend your disbelief and enjoy the book. After reading the book, you go back to the real world, your real kitchen, real family, real life; then you start to think as you go back to the details of the book, is that how real people in Italy live? Is that how they behave? Do all the values, and morals presented in the book the same as the values people in Italy have? Are the mafias really like that? Is the Italian farm life really like that? Is that really their way of life? Is that how they really cook?

I cannot argue with the cooking part. We, who love food, do cook with the passion and intensity as Rosa does. What about the others? I am a foreigner peeking inside a part of Italian culture. However, where do I draw the line between fantasy and reality? Wouldn't my perception of Italy be influenced by the pictures and scenes of the book?

I believe that writers have an obligation to the world and to the next generation. What picture of reality do you present to your readers? Look at the television. They present violent and immoral stories. They aim to sell, to titillate. They present extreme situations and extreme stories. Such that the next generation think it is normal to be violent and ammoral. Same thing with literature. A writer presents a sensual picture, you associate it with the culture. Of course, we can always argue that readers know this is fiction. But even fiction has some basis in reality, unless the setting is in the outer space or in another dimension.

I believe that writers should not just titillate the senses in order to sell their books. If the writers present the idea that it is justified for this person to kill his own son just for what? and that a husband (or wife) cavorting with the farm helper is a common occurrence, then people would get desensitized to immorality as well. Writers should present the good side of the real world. If the readers feel that the world is right and good, they would also follow and do right and good. The good part is the author was able to present the consequences suffered by those people.

I know that sounds lame and old fashioned. But that is the only way to make this world a better place. Because of television and mass media, the world had gone violent and immoral. Families have become dysfunctional. Is this the right way to go? This is not an attack on the book. I confess I enjoyed reading the book myself and my imagination had gone wild with the scenes and numerous edible possibilities. But then we have to qualify that this book is for mature readers only.

I confess that if not for the Book Club, I would not read this book. This type of novel is not in my usual reading list. I apologize if that came out as snotty. It is just that because of the demands and pressures of my job(s), I do not usually have time to read books simply to enjoy them! Thanks to the Cook the Books, I got to experience a new kind of literature.

I finished the book in one sitting - probably two to three hours. This book is a light read. Have I let out a secret? I'm a nerd. Specifically a book-nerd. I love books. I devour them. I would want my kids to have the same passion. I apologize if this post became somewhat of a long sermon. My kids read my blog. Their friends and classmates read my blog. I have an obligation to show them what is the right way to go.

As for the challenge, I cooked the spaghetti that L'Inglese cooked for Rosa at his house. Do you remember the scene? That is why I cannot look at Spaghetti as a kids' meal anymore. He made it with lots of garlic and meat, just like the way Rosa taught him. I would love to make the oysters, but I do not know how to shuck fresh oysters. :) I would love to complete the menu with veal (We do not have veal meat accessible here.) and the lovely dessert...

I used the homemade pasta that I made. That is why I have "flat" spaghetti instead of the regular round noodles. Recipe and how to make your own pasta here.

For the sauce:

4 T olive oil
5 tomatoes, chopped
2 heads garlic, peeled, sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped
1/2 Kilo lean ground beef
16 oz tomato sauce
a handful of fresh basil, chopped
3 T sugar (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
parmesan cheese, grated

1. Heat up the olive oil in a deep pan. Saute the onions until caramelized. Saute the garlic until fragrant. Add in the tomatoes and let it cook for a while until soft and juices come out.

2. Add in the ground meat. Cook until it changes color and fully done. Add in the tomato sauce and sugar (if using). When the sauce boils, add in the bell peppers and basil. Cook for a while. Adjust seasoning to taste.

3. To serve, top the sauce over cooked pasta. Grate parmesan cheese on top.

Also sharing this homemade pasta dish with the Presto Pasta Nights community, headed by Ruth of Once Upon A Feast. This week's host is Marye of the delicious Baking Delights. To see last week's delicious pasta dishes, do check out the round up here.


Jin Hooi said...

wowow.. look so yummy !!! Can i have some pleaseeeee.. ;-))

Rachel said...

Thank you for your entry to Cook the Books. I appreciate your honest reaction to the book and especially love how you express your passion for reading. We will try to have a mix of books in the Cook the Books club selections, some novels, some non-fiction, a mix of genres, so do stay tuned.

As for your homemade pasta and sauce, it looks glorious and I think Rosa would be proud!

Ruth Daniels said...

Great post and thanks for sharing such a delicious sounding and beautiful dish with Presto Pasta Nights.

Deeba PAB said...

I loved reading your 'sermon' lovely little book-nerd! This recipe is mouth wateringly passionate. Thanks for posting it. All that garlic is making my mouth water!

Chibog in Chief said...

wow, we didnt only get a scrumptous pasta meal we also have a delicious book to go with :-)

ps, i should have cook this for my birthday!! you know its never a birthday party without pasta!hahaha

Unknown said...

I am a book nerd myself so I completely empathize...just wanted to let you know I just completed your tag for breadline Africa :-)

Anonymous said...

No hotdogs? :) I kinda miss the Filipino spaghetti I grew up with but couldn't bring myself to make it.

lubnakarim06 said...

Wow looks yummylicous.

Ivy said...

Sorry I haven't been around the past few days, The pasta dish sounds delicious and I share your opinion about the book.

Yasmeen said...

Sensational spaghetti,love the garlic:)

Anonymous said...

Wow that looks great! I love that it's so full of chunks:-)

Unknown said...

oh my, the book sounds like a real good read... and boy, were you inspired to make such a great looking pasta dish... hmmm... now, where can i get hold of that book? :)

Lori Lynn said...

Enjoyed reading your opinion Ning. The spaghetti sounds great, love the meat and garlic.

Mary Bergfeld said...

Ning, this was a very thoughtful post. I share your love of books and reading. You've created a beautiful and delicious sounding pasta. Thanks for sharing with us.

tigerfish said...

lots of meat? sounds good for me...

Navita (Gupta) Hakim said...

oh lovely u i am a nerd and i'm proud of propaganda has been to read and make ppl read...out of/for the love of reading...
i enjoy books, n nothing gives better company than a book :)
nice spaghetti too n oh yes I just tried the century eggs here...they are awesome to look at n taste so delicately sweet.

Soli Deo Gloria said...

Thanks Jin Hooi!

Hi Rachel! Actually, I enjoyed reading the book. Looking forward to more books in the event!

Hi Ruth! Looking forward to more PPNs too! :)

Thanks Deeba! The addition of garlic made this dish stand out! I would add it to my other pasta dishes as well! :)

Soli Deo Gloria said...

Hello Dhanggit! You should have spaghetti on your birthday or its not a party at all! Ha ha ha! :D

Hello Usha! Thanks for the lovely bread! :)

Hey Jude! Why not? It is so easy to prepare and always delicious! :)

Thanks Lubna! :)

Soli Deo Gloria said...

Hello Ivy, am glad you agree. Maria (Mediterranean Kiwi) was saying that everything starts in the family. (This was re the violence in Greece) I suppose we should take the responsibility in teaching our children. This violence phenomenon is not only happening in your country but in many countries as well.

Thanks Yasmeen! We love garlic (regardless of the odor) we believe it is good for the health!

Thanks Marc! That's what Rosa's instructions are - add lots of meat and garlic!

Thanks Mikky! I found the book in "Fully Booked" Serendra. :)

Soli Deo Gloria said...

Thanks Lori Lynn! for not getting bored! ha ha ha! :)

Thanks Mary! Its amazing how books can inspire us to create lovely dishes!

Hi Tigerfish! You like lots of meat huh?

Welcome Navita! and thanks! :)

Anonymous said...

This is great! I just love how they are plated in little bundles with cheese on top. Yummmyyy!

Maria Verivaki said...

garlic is so special in mediterranean cooking. like l'inglese, i couldnt imagine a life without a garlicky oniony leeky aroma to it - in fact, there is no dish i make that does not use loads of one of them!

Soli Deo Gloria said...

Thanks Hillary! The plating was also inspired by the book. How L'Inglese served the Spaghetti :D

Thanks Maria! I agree! We are garlic lovers too!

Unknown said...

What's happening, good web-site you've right now

Gilroy Garlic said...

Garlic is awesome for spaghetti! So good comfort food! We love garlic too!

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