Friday, July 10, 2009

Getting It Wrong,2,2395091.story
When pasta disappoints.

I figure I have around 13,000 meals left to eat before I depart this world, so it makes good sense to get most of them right.  I mean, 13,000 is not that much.  It's like 30 years of meals.  I've already eaten over 50.  So when I took a frying pan out of the cupboard, put a pot of water on to boil, added some dried red chiles to the pan and began to heat them with a few cloves of sliced garlic in some olive oil, I had no idea I was going to turn out anything other than a perfectly decent and quick pasta dish.  I chopped some anchovies, opened a can of "premium" tuna that I had seen for the first time on the shelf at Superama, and added them to the pan as well, along with some salt packed capers.  I threw some linquine into to the pot, turned down the heat on the sauce in the pan after the flavors had time to meld, and opened a bottle of wine.  Then I grated some Reggiano.

When it was acceptably al dente, I drained the pasta, added it to the sauce in the pan, turned up the heat and tossed it a bit, adding some reserved cooking liquid and some chopped parsley.  I removed the chiles, plated the pasta, topped it with the parm, and added some sea salt and ground some pepper.  It sucked.

Well, it didn't suck, but it wasn't that good.  It disappointed me.  I have made this dish over 100 times.  It always tastes good.  Tonight, it was just average.  What did I do wrong?  Was it me?  My mood?  The "premium" tuna?  It all seemed a bit dry and boring.  Maybe some more oil would have helped?  I usually don't cook pasta with oil, so maybe that's why it was a bit sticky?   Am I losing my touch?  My taste?  Did I cook without passion?  Did I learn anything?  What would I do different next time? 

I am so bothered by this, I want to go back and do it again, but of course that would be nonsensical.  Maybe I will try it again soon.  Pay a bit more attention.  Not take for granted that everything I cook is going to be good.  But now I'm scared.  What if I never get it right again?   I only have 12,999 meals left.  

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