Pasta a la puttanesca (Thank you Mr. Bittman!)

February 4, 2011 § 5 Comments

I, and I’m sure many others, was quite saddened when I read in the New York Times that the food column “The Minimalist” was drawing to a close. Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, during its long tenure in the NYT, I never really read “The Minimalist,” except when someone forwarded me an article specifically. When this happened, it was usually accompanied by the subject line, “This looks like something you would make…” And, usually it did. Over the last few years, in fact, I developed this almost eerie sense of being followed by Mr. Bittman. I would make slow rise pizza dough, and then a couple weeks later his column would be about slow rise pizza dough. I would learn to make sushi from a friend and start making it with all sorts of random ingredients, and days later “The Minimalist” would broach the subject of sushi adaptability. I would get really into grilling bread and the next thing I knew, Bittman would recommend grilling bread…

Hey! Was he copying me?! Er, well, except that he’s the one who’s a NYT columnist, followed by thousands of readers, and I’m just me, hardly in a position to be starting food trends (yet – haha ;)).  Sorry vanity, but that theory just doesn’t add up.  Then finally, when I read his goodbye to “The Minimalist” I understood.  It’s simply that I have a very similar attitude toward cooking as Mr. Bittman does, a sense that, sure a little technique here and a little technique there is useful, but a lot of making good food does not require anything futsy or overly specialized, and many techniques and ingredients are eminently interchangeable.  Cooking is something a person should actually feel like they can do, not an inaccessible (though enticing) spectacle.  So, thank you Mr. Bittman for being the bearer of this message to so many people for so many years.  But really, even more than that, thank you for your pasta recipe.  Seriously, thank you!!

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