Maccheroni alla Casanova
Region: Italy, Campania-Naples
Category: Pasta with Vegetables and Meat
Difficulty: Easy and Quick
The most celebrated of lovers was Giovanni Giacomo Casanova de Seingalt, arguably the most famous of Venetians, along with Marco Polo. Not many people have read Casanova, but his writings are some of the best observations anywhere of social life in the eighteenth century. He was a lover not a skirt-chaser, although the two are sometimes confused. Nevertheless, his sexual escapades read like operatic plots. Casanova writes in his autobiography that cultivating and pleasing the senses was for his whole life his main preoccupation. “Ho molto amato anche la buona tavola ed insieme tutte le cose che eccitano la curiosità…” (I very much loved a good table and everything that excites the curiosity…). Some people have suggested that in Venice in 1700 macaroni referred to gnocchi, but given that Casanova said “Ho amato i piatti dal sapore forte: i maccheroni preparati da un bravo cuoco napoletano” (I love strongly flavored dishes: macaroni prepared by a good Neapolitan cook) it seems that he intended macaroni. This dish is aromatic from the anchovies and black olives and tingly on the tongue from the chile.
Yield: Makes 2 servings
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 dried red chile, crumbled
14 salted anchovy fillets (2 ounces whole anchovies)
½ pound ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
4 tablespoons chopped imported black olives
½ cup water
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Salt to taste
6 ounces perciatelli (bucatini)
1. In a casserole or skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat with the crumbled chile and the anchovies. Once the anchovies begin to crumble and melt add the tomatoes, olives, water, and tomato paste. Stir well, reduce the heat to low and cook, partially covered, until dense, 20 minutes. Season with a little salt.
2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of abundantly salted water to a rolling boil, then cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta without rinsing it. Toss with the sauce for several minutes over low heat and serve.