Sunday, January 16, 2011

Day Sixteen: Thanks, Ladies

You'll be happy (I hope) to know that my second attempt at pasta puttanesca was successful, no exploding crockery or anything.

Pasta puttanesca is a dish with an interesting history. It originated in Naples, and the word puttanesca means, "in the style of the whores." The word puttana means "whore" and is derived from the Latin word putida which means "stinking." There are lots of stories about how this dish got its name. The more innocent way would be to associate the sauce's pungent aroma with the term's Latin root. But what about the whores? Well, the ladies of the evening would put this aromatic dish outside their houses of ill fame to lure gentleman callers inside. Another possibility (these things are in no way mutually exclusive, but none of this information is exactly written down) is that puttanesca is quick and easy to make, and the ladies only had a limited amount of time to cook between engagements. Another version of the story concerning the dish's short cooking time: married ladies would whip it up quickly so they could feed their husbands and meet their lovers, all in the same night.

Now, don't suspect me because I made pasta puttanesca. I made it quickly (about fifteen minutes, start to finish) but I fed it to my husband. I'm a good girl, I am! (If you get that reference I award you two thousand cool points.) And since my husband had just come back from two hours of curling, which he recently discovered burns about six hundred calories, he gobbled it up. However--when asked, out of five stars, how this dish would rate, he gave it a two. And I would have to say that I concur.

Which isn't to say I hated it. But my first impression was that I could taste the anchovy paste, even though there's only a teaspoon in the whole pan (to which my husband replied, Really?!) and also that capers are the ugliest things in the world (probably an overstatement, but still). So this dish contains two of my darling disliked foods. But it was okay.

I still have a pretty full tube of anchovy paste in my cupboard, so I may have to have more adventures with anchovies. I still have capers, too. When I used to work at a bagel shop, we served bagels with cream cheese, lox, and capers--so that could be on the horizon. Though, whenever anyone ordered it, we teenage girls in the back room would giggle and squeal over who had to touch the lox, and dared each other to try the capers, which terrified us all.


  1. My Fair Lady - does this mean I'm cool?
    You are a brave, brave girl. Capers always remind me of rabbit poop.

  2. Thank you for that image!
    (And you are the coolest!)