Thursday, April 16, 2009

"Congratulations! You didn't die."

My younger brother (a/k/a The Wrangler) punctuated this statement by offering a high five. I accepted the high five with pride. The Wrangler is stingy with such gestures. The occasion? I had just completed a two week, solo vacation in Italy and Switzerland.

The trip marked my 30th birthday. Originally, I thought that I would go skydiving to celebrate the occasion. As the date drew closer, however, I decided that I wanted a more challenging and lasting experience. I admit that I was trying to trick myself into looking forward to the birthday, but it worked for me. The number 30 no longer loomed over me like a deadline that I planned to ignore & never speak of in hopes the birthday gods would forget about it, too. The number 30 became like a long distance love whose arrival requires anticipatory countdown marks on the calendar. I had never met 30 before, but I knew my life would never be the same after our meeting.

My first meal when arriving in Milan, Italy was at the hands of a friend's husband. I had just flown a countless amount of hours, grabbed a train to the center of Milan and then waved down a cab to my friend's apartment. While she was not at home, her husband & beautiful smiley baby daughter were. Knowing that I was probably starving, T whipped up a very Italian pasta dish for me that I still remember vividly. It was simple, yet perfectly delicious to this starving, exhausted traveller.

I did not get T's recipe, unfortunately. But below I have recreated the full flavor and sheer simplicity of a few ingredients that create a whoppingly-good comfort dish.

So, if you have done something that deserves a high five but don't have a Wrangler around to distribute it to you, then I suggest this dish as a great substitute in a pinch.

I Didn't Die Pasta or High Five Pasta:

4 cups of Farfalle pasta, cooked Al Dente
1/4 cup good Olive Oil
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1.5 pints of grape tomatoes
3/4 cup of freshly chopped basil
1/4 cup freshly grated Romano cheese(approximately...I just grate over the pasta until I'm satisfied with the cheese to pasta ratio)

Feeds 4 or 2 really hungry travellers.

Heat up large skillet with 1/4 cup olive oil. Add garlic & saute for 3-4 minutes or until fragrant. Add grape tomatoes & half the salt & pepper & stir occasionally until tomatoes start popping or bursting. When you drain pasta, add chopped basil and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add drained pasta and stir until coated with olive oil. Grate the Romano cheese over the pasta dish & stir. Add more or less to your taste. Dish into bowl & serve with crusty bread!


  1. Love the new blog -- the combination of recipes and your stories to contextualize them is wonderfully funny and informative to boot. Now I know where to turn any time I need some culinary inspiration!

  2. Wonderful! Good stuff - something like... Elizabeth Gilbert meets Irma S. Rombauer....

  3. Thanks, Naomi! Thanks for reading!