Monday, November 15, 2010

Sophia Loren's Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce


Cardinal Tarciscio Bertone once said something along the lines of this: 'The Catholic Church stands against human cloning.  However, we may be willing to make an exception in the case of Sophia Loren.'  And all I have to say is that the man makes a fine point.  Seriously.  Sophia Loren is gorgeous -- and that is an understatement, to be sure. 

I would think that being so gorgeous must be quite exhausting, but not so for Ms. Loren.  Because apart from all the other things that have filled her busy schedule over the years, Sophia Loren likes to cook.  So much so, that she has written a couple of cookbooks over the years demonstrating her abilities.   I've got her first book, In the Kitchen with Love, (a first edition, thank you very much) which is devoted to Neapolitan cuisine*.   The book is written in a friendly, chit-chatty sort of way, and filled with pictures of her throwing pizza dough up in the air, feeding chickens, setting the dining room table, etc, all while wearing her signature lined eyes.  Oh, how I wish I had the nerve to do my eyes up like that.  I love that mid 60s/early 70s eye-liner look that she mastered (Audrey Hepburn also mastered it in the movie How to Steal a Million, by the way).  But the truth of the matter is that one looks rather absurd wearing eyes like that on a normal day-to-day basis.  Or, at least I would. And what's more, is that eyes like that usually only look lovely in photos or movies and such -- not while you are wandering around the produce section of the grocery store, or trying your hand at sewing a pair of flannel pajamas for your two-year-old, or while making batch after batch of pastry dough for eclairs.  You get the idea.

In fact, there is not much about Sophia Loren, generally speaking, that is attainable.  But that is where her recipes come in to play.  So while I may currently be looking, shall we say, slightly less than ravishing, I can still conjure up a batch of her tomato sauce to pile on a bowl-full of spaghetti.  I've done it twice now in a week and a half.  Emilia loves it because she happens to adore spaghetti all sorts, and Michael adores it because he finds Sophia Loren dreamy, and I adore it because it is easy-peasy.  Seriously, all that goes in it olive oil, garlic, canned tomatoes (although we only buy the jarred ones these days on account of all that nasty BPA), basil, salt, and touch of sugar.  Why on earth people buy jarred sauce filled with high-fructose corn syrup and all sorts of nasties is beyond me.  And making your own sauce is ridiculously simple to do.  But hey, that's just me.

And so, I'll leave you with a marvelous quote I've found of Sophia Loren's to ponder while you are cooking up your tomato sauce for dinner tonight.  If it doesn't make you smile a bit, then I don't know what will.  'I don't understand Sharon Stone, who talks about sex as if she were talking about a plate of spaghetti or a pizza.'  Marvelous, no?  

Now then, pardon me while I go and find my eye-liner and those fake-lashes I've got stowed somewhere.  Ridiculous, be damned! 

*Naples is her hometown.  Oh, and while I am at it, another interesting tidbit about Sophia Loren is that she was adopted.  Love her even more now?  Or is that even possible?

Sophia Loren's Spaghetti with Tomato Sauce

3-4 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 garlic cloves
1 24(ish)-ounce jar or can of your favorite tomatoes
fresh basil (or dried if it is November and that is what you have)
a good pinch of salt
a teaspoon of sugar

1 pound dry spaghetti

In a saucepan heat the oil over moderate heat.  Crush the garlic and add it to the pan.  Let it cook, turning it over a few times.  After a few minutes, add your tomatoes.  Add your basil, salt, and sugar.  'These days there is a tendency to forget the sugar, but that is a mistake because it compensates for the acidity of the tomatoes.'  (I have not added any sugar to the sauce yet, because with Halloween and such, we're already loaded to the gills with sugar.  Maybe once the holidays are over and we are back to normal, I will add it.  Because I do think she makes a fine point.)  Let the sauce simmer over low heat for 30 minutes, giving it a nice stir occasionally.  I always partially cover the pot with a lid, otherwise we've got sauce all over the stove-top, the walls, etc...

While you are waiting, bring a pot of water to boil.  Add a tablespoon or so of salt, your spaghetti, and give it a stir.  Cook for about 9 minutes, then drain.  Combine the pasta and sauce in a bowl, give it a stir, and then serve with an enormous wedge of parmesan cheese at the table.  (Recipe from In the Kitchen with Love, by Sophia Loren.  Doubleday Publishers, 1972.)

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