Thursday, December 11, 2008

Pasta and Rapture

Back in early November, I had the opportunity to serve my one day of jury duty. Resigned to being stuck in a crowded room all day, I came prepared. I would bring work with me to occupy my time in the morning, and a fun-read to take its place in the afternoon, when the work was finished. All assuming, of course, that I wouldn't be called to a jury room.

As planned, after lunch, I began reading La Cucina: A Novel of Rapture, by Lily Prior.

I had purchased this book a number of years ago to read during one of my European trips, but travel being what it is, I never opened the book. It sat, forgotten, on my shelves, until October, when I came across a blog event that paired this book with food, a most appropriate pairing. Since I already owned the book, I decided to participate.

My only concern about reading this book during my stay in the jury waiting room was that I would become so lost in the plot that I would somehow embarrass myself in front of a group of strangers. It's easy to do with this book -- get lost in it, that is, not embarrass yourself. Such a rhapsody of food and lust and fascinating characters -- a true diversion.

I nearly managed to read the entire book that afternoon, but all prospective jurors were sent home early (thankfully), leaving me just a few chapters shy of completion. Nothing like being left hanging.

With so many culinary possibilities, I vacillated between making pasta or bread. In the end, I chose the pasta, as it had been awhile since I had made fresh pasta and the very effort required to knead the dough would be cathartic. So, I did it the old-fashioned way:

I made a basic meat sauce to go over the pasta and cooked some spinach with red pepper flakes as a side (a Sicilian recipe).

It was a satisfying meal, a tribute to Rosa and all her trials. The bread, however, is still calling to me, so I may have to break down and whip up a focaccia sometime soon.

I must say that I debated whether to post this. Compared to some of the other participants in this event, it's not glamorous or exciting. I did enjoy the story and the characters and the challenge of preparing a recipe inspired by the plot.

Soon after December 15, we will all be treated to the creative results of this challenge over at Cook the Books, so be sure to drop by. Thanks to Deb from Kahakai Kitchen, Rachel from The Crispy Cook, and Johanna from Food Junkie, Not Junk Food
for having such a great idea.


Natashya said...

I love your rustic pasta! I kneaded my own for the book but didn't go so far as to roll it on my own - now that is authentic!
(I am thinking Rosa didn't have a KA pasta roller attachment.)

Rachel said...

Hey, homemade pasta is never commonplace, awesome entry. Now tell us all how you made the spinach. I'm always looking for a little vegetable variety.

Thanks so much for participating in Cook the Books. I'm excited to see how our judge, Lily Prior herself, will pick the winning entry. Stay tuned for our next book pick and send some positive thoughts across the ocean to Athens, where our cohost, Johanna of Food Junkie is being swept up in her beloved country's turmoil.

Tracy said...

I am so impressed with the homemade pasta! I've never done that.

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Strikes me as super special! Made only better with the spinach!

Now on to the bread!

Debinhawaii said...

Judy--Homemade pasta impresses me and I love the rustic feel. rosa would be proud! Great job and thanks for joining us for Cook The Books!

Mediterranean kiwi said...

i was inspired to make pasta too, but yours is so pretty, and very creative. i'm tempted to do it all over again, using your shapes!

mangomissives said...

wow! I am impressed that you made pasta from scratch. I've want to try it for the longest time but haven't yet... maybe sometime in 2009. :) There were so many points for food inspiration in La Cucina. It was difficult to decide what direction to go in.