Umami Linguini and juvenilia

Among my juvenilia. I found this cat and mouse I made when I was in high school, maybe? Malcolm made me this Clio and alien sculpture when he was in high school, maybe? Crazy, right?

My parents dropped off 7 boxes full of dusty and brittle testaments to my enduring madness. Letters, full notebooks, empty notebooks, postcards, photographs, random notes from friends, fortune cookie fortunes, yellowing newspaper articles, ticket stubs, an award from my college dorm for being “least likely to be functioning in reality at any given moment.” And stories, so so many stories.

It’s a discombobulating experience to sift through relics of different periods of my life with my boys looking on: Journals about how confused and lonely I was at Isaac’s age, notes and letters from people who were so important to me at Malcolm’s age–people I think about often but never speak to any more. Strange to see myself from outside, in a way, as a person or even a character in the story of my life. I’m so accustomed to the view from inside my head as I wander through life as a collection of worries, hopes, dreams, appetites, and fairly constant confusion. Digging through the layers of my years brings alternating waves of thinking I liked myself as a person and thinking what a precious fool. It’s a disarming feeling of self-consciousness I rarely feel any more, and an odd echo of so many of the questions I had as a youth.

Here’s an excerpt from a sort of journal entry written on January 23, 1989 at 3:36 p.m. “I like people right now. Almost all of them. It is usually all or none. I’m going to stop worrying about being one.”

Here is an excerpt from a fairly long story I wrote. Parts of the very long story are dreadful, parts of it are appealingly Kafka-esque, and I think I like this bit of nonsense that is almost complete unrelated to the rest of the plot, inasmuch as there is a plot at all.

“The weather had changed, and by the time he reached the gates to the park, his coat seemed too heavy and made him feel stodgy. In the park he was suddenly aware of the sighing, sweet, wet smell of thawing things. The strong colorless light made everything stand out so sharply that Paul could almost not bare to look, though he felt a pain at the thought of missing anything touched by this pale glow. Paul began to run, and felt the cool wet leaves slap again his face and tug at his coat. The path grew narrower and more overgrown. Finally Paul stopped and sat on a bench on a muddy bank leading to a pond.

Paul tilted his head back to feel the sun glow through his eyelids. he breathed deeply of the murky pond smell and looked into the bewilderingly, jumpingly blue sky. The only perfect view. As he did so he noticed he was not alone, and he drew his coat together.

Standing not far from the bench and staring at him very intently was a boy with straight back hair, and very pale skin, smoothly patterned with turquoise veins. His eyes were brown and the sun shot back into the small hollow of his iris, resonating beneath the shadow of his lashes.

‘Seek not…’ he began in a clear voice.

‘God, you surprised me!’

‘Seek not to be…’

‘What are you doing here? You really…I didn’t hear you at all.’

‘Seek not to be understood but to understand.’

‘What?’

‘Seek not to be loved but to love.’

“What are you saying?’

‘Dunno.’

‘Did you invent it?’

‘Dunno. No.’ He glanced at Paul from the side of his dark eyes and then looked away quickly again. ‘Look, ducks.’ He stood to climb down to the pond but Paul put a hand around his frail, pale wrist.

‘What did you say? Where did you hear that? What does it mean?’

The boy’s arm became tense in Paul’s hand and he looked down at his feet.

‘Did you say seek to understand? Do you mean that? Someone told me not to understand, to appreciate, perhaps, I was thinking, but you said…do you think it’s true, what you said?’

‘You got any gum?”

And that’s enough of that self-indulgent nonsense! Apologies for the nostalgia-steeped rambling!

A housekeeping note, I will be moving my crush-of-the-day brand of nonsense to Facebook. Here’s the page.

This pasta came about because I wanted to make a pasta sauce freed from the shackles of expectation. I didn’t want to make an Italian-style pasta or an Asian-style pasta, but one that combined elements that taste good together. The result is this spicy, smokey, nearly meaty dish. Very simple to make, completely open to variation (for instance, I had a little thai red curry paste in the fridge, so I threw that in, but if you don’t have it, still yummy). I forgot to take a picture of it till it was mostly gone, and it went very quickly! If you want it to be vegan just leave out the butter and parmesan, it will still be good!

Here’s A Roller Skating Jam Named Saturdays by De La Soul. Beautiful song, beautiful video.

Recipe after the…JUMP!

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 T butter (optional)
1 large shallot, chopped
1 t (or to taste) red pepper flakes
Fresh rosemary, minced
about 1 cup mushrooms, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 T tomato paste
1 t thai red chili paste (optional)
1 t chipotle purée
1 t smoked paprika
big glug white wine
2 T tamari
splash of balsamic
another dot of butter
Salt and lots and lots and lots of pepper
Parmesan to grate on top, (optional)
Diced chives, scallions or parsley to garnish

About 3/4 box of linguine
Salt

Bring a big pot of generously salted water to the boil. Add the linguine and cook according to package instructions,

Warm the olive oil and butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and stir and fry until they soften and start to brown. Add the rosemary, pepper flakes and mushrooms, and stir and fry until the mushrooms release their juices, then dry out and start to brown. Add the garlic and stir and fry for about half a minute till it starts to brown. Add the tomato paste and smoked paprika, red chili paste if using, and stir to mix, then add a big glug of white wine and stir and cook till it thickens again. Add the tamari and balsamic, more butter if using, and a splash of the pasta cooking water and cook till you have a smooth thick sauce.

When the pasta is done use a slotted spoon or tongs to lift it into the sauce. Stir the noodles into the sauce until they’re all well coated. It should be quite thick and shiny.

Top with parmesan, chives, parsley or scallions if you like.

2 thoughts on “Umami Linguini and juvenilia

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