Cooking with Michael Bublè

Or with Damien Rice.  Or Fausto Leali.  Snowed in.  No, not my thing, the snow.  Well, I’ve got the blazing Mediterranean sun in my blood, what do you expect? Just gazing out  the window, I feel my heart ice up wipictureth that white blanket that covers all my colors.  But I’ve got sliced onions sautéing on the stove, and Michael Bublè’s silky voice exploring Bossa nova with the best version of Wonderful Tonight’ I’ve ever heard, a genial collaboration with  Brazilian crooner Ivan Lins.  I stir them a little with a wooden spatula, gather the stray slices at the edge of the pan, bring them into the golden warmth of the gently sizzling olive oil, absorb the aroma, sip some white wine, think about my mother.  Her recipe, this one.  A rich ragù made with sausages, wine, ripe tomatoes. She mixed this enticing sauce with tagliatelle, wide ribbons of egg pasta.  I prefer short pasta, ridged, so that every bit of ragù can insinuate the surface, penetrate the hollows, enhancing the taste sensation.  Slowly, almost gingerly, I pour in the wine, watch it scatter the onion pieces, then bubble up.  I’ll allow it to tighten a bit, then, with my fingers, crumble sausage removed from the casing into it, slowly, so it browns gently in its bed of softened onions.  “Mi manchi”, an impossibly romantic old song by Fausto Leali infiltrates my thoughts, throws me off a bit, then invites me to experience the tingling of what was once always on my mind, but only tentatively these days, as I hold back sentiments that might shatter the film of self-protection I carefully built around myself.  It’s thin that film, you know? It’d only take a pin to burst it wide open, but better not go there…Blistering hot summer afternoons in Portici, the streets nearly deserted, the tennis club empty, only the dusty red earth dissolving in the heat, caking my strappy sandals, lining the hem of my ground-brushing bell-bottoms.  No sign of anyone dear to my heart yet. Was I, eager seventeen-year-old girl, the one who clung so much more fervently to the ultimate feeling? Perhaps…No, of course I was, my head, my heart, were spinning, giddy with that volatile happiness that only new love can bestow.  Time to add the tomatoes to the aromatic mixture in the pan: lower the flame, stir, blend in, turn it rosy, build a new flavor dimension, a little acidic, yet sweet, tingly, eventually perfectly melded. It simmers, just barely, tiny bubbles scattered on the lustrous surface. Damien Rice comes on, his lyrics excruciatingly slow in the best of ways, drawn out to slither –  charged with muted passion – through your veins, heating your blood, but in a mellow way.  Soft and gentle his song, The Blower’s Daughter.  Sliding right in – after that tender British voice – the more languorous smoothness of Ivan Lins singing in Portuguese, his tone warm, seductive, perfectly complimentary to melodious Bublè.  I turn off the flame: the sauce is done, the reduction accomplished.  Only the rich, intense flavor remains, to slather on the perfectly al denterigatoni.  I inhale the fragrance while Vasco Rossi’s sexy, raspy voice emerges from the speakers, and, once again, I allow the music to seduce me.  Recipe


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