Fun facts regarding tomatoes
- They were among the loot the Spanish brought back from their business trips to South America
- They are fruits
- You can make wine – and liquor – out of them
- The English word for the fruit comes from the original south American (Nahuati) name ‘tomatl’
- The French too use the boring word. Initially they named it ‘pomme d’amour’, love apple, since it was considered an aphrodisiac. Changing ‘love apple’ in ‘tomate’, one of the worst marketing moves in history
- The Italians show some inventive spirit in calling it ‘pomodoro’, golden apple. A sweet, sunny and inviting name
- Tomatoes were first (widely) eaten in times of famine. Until then it was an ornamental plant. It would be like start eating grass today
- Tomato eating moved from the popular classes upward (from rags to riches)
- Initially tomatoes were prepared together with chili peppers, another item on the Spanish loot-list
- The riper the tomato, the tastier (increased level of glutamate)
Basic preparation of Italian style ‘salsa al pomodoro’.
Heat some olive oil and garlic in a pan, adding the tomato sauce as soon as the garlic starts to sizzle, stirring now and then making sure it does not stick or burn.
Fish out the garlic, add the drained pasta and mix.
If any seasoning, do not go beyond some basil leaves, preferably fresh.
One can use onion instead or together with the garlic. Be careful your onion is soft before adding the tomato sauce.
Let’s be frank: you’re not going to impress anybody with this recipe, no matter how hard you try. One can discuss about the tradition value, the power of simplicity, the essence of cooking when drunk or trying to get rid of a boring company, but don’t do it over a plate if steaming pasta with tomato sauce, there is no need for overkill.
Here is a good way to get rid of those capers in the pantry. Use the salted, not pickled capers for this dish. You should never rinse them but rather dust the salt off. Just do not any more salt and everything will be alright.
Olives, green and black, blend in beautifully. Don’t forget to pit them. Or tell your guests there might be pits. Add oregano before serving, chilli pepper is an optional. If you are or if you are cooking for vegetarians, hold it there. Diced fresh tuna or a tin conveys this in fully grown dish.
Believe it or not, this dish has a name: Aeolian (Ah-Eh-Oh-Li-An) pasta, after the islands north of Sicily. Picture yourself in a small restaurant, enjoying the shade on a hot summer day. A fisher boat bobs gently on the deep blue sea, the fading discussion of two tanned boys passing. The beautiful young waitress – she’s the owner’s daughter and called Claudia brings your pasta; she has her thumb in your plate and apologizes when you notice. She licks her thumb and smiles and just before going back in she turns winks at you. When you think life could not be any better, you taste the pasta.
What a difference it makes?
Very similar and yet known as two distinctive dishes, both with a reputation of featuring on menus in Italian restaurants, are pasta all’arrabiata and pasta alla puttanesca. With tomato sauce base in common, they differ in one element only: puttanesca contains vinegar soaked capers (difference with Aeolian that uses the salted version), arrabbiata does not have capers but on the other hand should contain a little more chilli pepper, since arrabbiata means ‘angry’ and refers to the dish being hot. Add capers and olives and you find yourself with a pasta alla marinara.