“I’m going to be very busy with business when I get home. No breaking my balls. Capeesh?”
This is an email from the bronchitis-stricken Beast that I received yesterday. He’s watched about ten episodes of The Sopranos in the span of a couple of evenings. It seems strange that we’re only now getting into the series—it’s not exactly new. I was previously blind to all the nuanced, post-modernist references to mob culture classics, and the attention paid to details. It’s the manicures; the sausage and peppers; the prosciutt’ and manicott’; the golf-shirts; the marbled surfaces. We’re hooked, and what a perfect time of the year to watch hours and hours of television.
One of the consequences of too much Sopranos is the Beast’s new dialect. Another consequence is that I’ll be preparing many pasta dinners to accompany our time spent on the couch. Last night I started out simple: spaghetti al pomodoro. Once I learned how to do a simple tomato sauce, I swore I’d never buy the jarred stuff again, and I haven’t. But I have to say, as simple as it is, I still can’t make it as well as they do at the restaurant. There, they call it spaghetti ca’ pummarola n’goppa, which is Barese dialect for ‘spaghetti topped with tomatoes’. I don’t know what I’m doing that’s holding the sauce back. I make sure my olive oil gets good and hot; I add a tiny bit of garlic (never letting it burn); I add a can of my San Marzano tomatoes; reduce that down a bit, and add a pinch of salt and sugar, to cut the acidity. When it’s all done, I add my al dente spaghetti and let it soak up the goodness of the sauce for a bit. Generous handfuls of freshly grated parmigiano reggiano and basil finish it off.
The Beast seemed to like it. He ate a helping big enough for mister Tony Soprano himself.
Foodie: Fat Pussy must be so stressed with the Feds breathing down his neck.
Beast: It’s Big Pussy. Are you going to write that you said “Fat Pussy” in your blog?
Foodie: Maybe. Everybody in this show seems to drop the vowels off the Italian words.
Beast: Is that why they say “prosciutt”?
Foodie: I think it’s a New Jersey thing. Maybe it’s a thing that all American-Italians do. Because my Italian friends, who were all born in Italy, don’t do it.
Beast: What does “puttan” mean?
Foodie: They’re dropping the vowel at the end of puttana, which means “whore” I think. Like in a puttanesca sauce…which means “sauce in the way a whore would make it.”
Beast: Ssshh. Junior’s talking!
Foodie: I can’t believe Tony and Carmella have a reproduction of Jacopo Pontormo’s Visitation above their bed! What a weird painting to choose. Maybe it’s not that weird if you think about it. I mean it’s sort of a double visitation because Mary’s visiting Elizabeth, and they’re both pregnant with Jesus and John the Baptist respectively, so those two are sort of meeting too. So maybe–
Beast: Can you be quiet? Big Pussy’s gonna get wacked!
Foodie: How’s your spaghetti?
Beast: [gesticulating with his hand by his face] It’s good but where are the sausage and peppers?
Foodie: How long are you going to talk like this? And how much longer do you plan on being sick?
Beast: Ah stuggats! Vaffanculo you!
I always thought that Kaye Adams had it great and that she was crazy for leaving Michael Corleone. Maybe no so much anymore.
Spaghetti al Pomodoro Foodie **
Beast no stars (“I got news for you: Carmella always
has a protein on the table!”)