Saturday, 15 February 2014

41. A Recipe for a Quick English Pasta Dish

for Ginie (as if you need it – but for the record)

I am hopeful this dish is simple
a common resource at the tired end of the month
whose idea & principles of course I got from you
a classic English montage of flavours
– British traditional, vaguely Italian
big brands & a kick of capsicum
all the way from Singapore
(like your childhood midnight feasts)

These things you need
dirty & noisy, clean & silent
it doesn’t matter – just take this:

           ½ a red onion
           1 medium carrot
           1 red coloured pepper
           a couple of hot little chillies
                       or maybe not all
           1 small white cabbage
           3 or 4 mushrooms
           a handful of frozen peas
           3 or 4 slices of lean back bacon
           (you are appalled at anything else!)
           a dash of light soy sauce
           several little sprinkles of ground pepper
           maybe some white wine for flavour
           and 1 tin of your favourite tomato soup
           (I won’t attack here the ancient powers of capital
           but I will not say or utter the great brand names)
           plus the pasta, shell or tube
           lumecchini o penne (facere pomposo)
           a couple of handfuls or cupfuls, what
           ever you feel you need for the two of us

Cut the onions thin, & slice the carrot
orange circles like the midwinter sun
the pepper & the chillies cut & seeded
then wipe & slice the mushrooms too
cutting fine as much cabbage as you want
then fry up the onions, carrots, chillies
and scissor the bacon so the bits drop in
                                          – let them cook up luscious
next mushroom, red pepper & cabbage in
pepper sprinkled & the dash of soy maybe
even now a little wine
                       cover & let it all conjoin
oh, maybe 10/15 minutes until
it’s beginning actually to cook
add in the soup to encapsulate the peas
& let it all boil
then simmer & put on a pot of water
cook up your pasta as you want
(we don’t add salt as soup, bacon & soy give plenty
– enough indeed to swallow)

It’ll all be ready when the pasta is
– child’s play for an easy unpretentious supper
served in bowls with the soupy gloop
poured over the pasta
                      & more chilli if you want
                      & you may do
wolfed down like easy words
like actual ones
                 gnarly & lumpy
the bacon bits piquant as brick rubble
lodged in the savoury mixture
disordered into a new & better order
with what words then to greet it?

[I got this recipe from your set of instructions for a quick meal, with the genuine innocence of our youthful generation bringing in the dominant reality of industrial food & transforming it while retaining yet the childhood pleasure in it we did experience; and I think always too of you & Julie’s attempts at recreating Singapore food, tropical children exiled to working‑class Fulham in the 50s, and find that reflected too. Real food, flawed, historically flawed & heterogeneous as people & our lives.]

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