Thursday, December 13, 2007

Bon Appetit!

You're looking at a piping-hot dish of Calamari Puttanesca alla Fresca with shrimp, on angel hair pasta. Now, before you bookmark this page as a kitchen companion - although I've modified this recipe, made it mine to a certain degree - it began as a simple recipe from an Italian cookbook and not something crafted from scratch. Anyone could make it; people sometimes let cooking intimidate them. But what you get out of it might be more than simply something to fill your stomach.

Salivary glands first awaken with a crackling sautee of onions and garlic, then proscuitto, and the aromatic steam created. Tomatoes, wine and spices add color and a bright, pungent quality to the scent. The calamari, some chopped basil and grated parmesan add some festivity.

I swear, there is something in the scent of any home cooking, but particularly Italian red sauces, that acts as an antidepressant or stimulant. I made this dish on a cold, gray and snowy day, the seasonal change in the weather keeping me indoors. But filling the house with such scents as it did added a warmth and comfort. I sat by myself with a nice glass of red wine and took in the tastes and smells.

Home cooking can enhance sense of place and add to intimacy. And the process of creating good food is therapeutic in itself. Something to be shared if possible, but also enjoyable in your own company.

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