Peasant Food Is All That
I almost didn’t put this dish in my blog because of its simplicity. Then I thought, that is what this blog is all about. Italian cooking in its simplest form. Good food, comfort food, peasant food. Food we grew up eating and never gave it a second thought.
It drives me mad when I go into an Italian restaurant and see this dish on the menu and see what they charge for it. Are they insane? For a plate of aglio olio? You gotta be kidding. You can make this dish for pennies. This is truly a peasant food. There are so many dishes we eat today that have become a fad and originated from peasant food. Take pizza for instance, some dough, a little sauce and a bit of cheese. I remember when it was 25 cents a slice and 10 cents for a small orange drink. It’s a billion dollar industry today! Throw some salad or BBQ chicken on it (it’s sacrilegious as far as I’m concerned) and they will charge you $3 a slice. Cook it in a brick oven? Oh my goodness! They will not even serve you slices.
Same thing with chicken wings. They were thrown out with the scraps. Until someone in Buffalo New York was out of food and needed to feed a hungry crowd so he decided to fry them and serve them up with butter and hot sauce and a side of blue cheese dressing. Ever buy a bag of chicken wings? It cost more than a steak. My grandfather told me the rib meat was junk meat. You can get it for next to nothing. Have you ordered a rack of ribs lately?
I think I’ll open a trendy restaurant and sell aglio olio for $14 a plate. Add some parsley and take it to $15. You want the version with toasted bread crumbs? That will cost you $20…grated cheese and red pepper flakes extra. If my grandmother only knew, she would shake her head and say “minqia”. That’s a dialect word for “holy cow!”
You can enjoy this dish any time. Takes minutes to prepare, as long as it takes your pasta water to boil.
- 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 pound of spagetti or linguini
- red pepper flakes (optional)
In a large pot bring about 5 quarts of water to a boil. Add 1 tablespoon of salt to the water. While the pasta is cooking, pour olive oil in a small frying pan. Add crushed garlic and cook on medium flame till garlic is slightly brown. Turn the garlic over and remove pan from the heat.
Just before pasta is ready, take about a cup of the pasta water and add it to the garlic and oil. This will add some moisture to the dish.
Drain the pasta, put the drained pasta back in the pot and add the garlic and oil. Mix well.