If you follow my blogs, my writings, my ramblings, you’ll probably know what a spaghettata is. Or if you speak Italian, of course. When I was a teen in Italy, it was often a way of gathering together, around a large table and abundant bowls of spaghetti with some kind of magnificent sauce, usually made with fresh fish and preferably consumed by the sea. However, the food was just a part of the night out, which involved traveling in several cars, borrowed from hesitant and uneasy parents, driven by new and inexperienced drivers who were, however, overconfident in their skills and slightly reckless. Lacking a car, a motorcycle – be it a Kawasaki or a Vespa – would often be involved, always a preferred and practical method of daily transportation in Italy (how else is one going to get through the congested city streets and the wall-to-wall traffic? A motorcycle will whiz between the Fiats, the trucks and the furgoncini, barely folding in a few side view mirrors, which are meant to do that anyway). They started late, these spaghettate, leaving Portici for Sorrento, Vico, or even Salerno, around 8 pm, to continue late into the night, involving, at times, even a discothèque to burn off some calories. Or just hanging out by the lungomare, being loud and exuberant on the streets that seem to belong only to you. Then, returning home at an unholy hour, tiptoeing in and collapsing on the bed, to wake up late the next day which of course had to be a Sunday. Sounds like fun. Never done it. Because I was one of those overprotected, super-controlled girls who’d better be home before eight. Yeah, exactly, just when fun and games were about to begin. I heard them talking, my friends, mostly boys, I’ll admit, but also some girls blessed with more progressive parents, planning the route, the timing, and will it be awkward if I bring my new boyfriend since the ex is coming along? Oh the potential excitement, adventures, forbidden games that were about to unfold with this lively comitiva, of which I could never be part, damn it and accidenti…Home before the first shadows of the evening, lest I turned into a pumpkin. Or someone that the neighbors would whisper about, a lot worse…Oh well, those times are now lost in the melancholic mist of things poorly remembered, thus much more alluring. Not a big fan of spaghetti, I, too messy to eat – yes, no matter how skillfully you roll them around your fork, they will still splatter sauce on clothes and tablecloth, a serious issue when someone is (slightly) OCD. Also, I absolutely love small pastas – rigatoni, farfalle, fischiotti and such – which so thoroughly accept the sauce into their ridges and various design twists. But. Sometimes, when you have a light, brightly red sugo, fragrant with fresh basil or parsley, only good, super-al dente spaghetti will do, preferably rigati, square-cut. A dish of these, steamy and appetitosi, generously sprinkled with excellentParmigiano Reggiano (not the saw dust in ‘famous-brand’-labeled plastic containers that passes for such at your local supermarket) is a thing of beauty and incomparable flavor. And yes, I crave that, once in a while, my personal, small-scale, across-the pond version of the spaghettata I never had.