31 October 2015

Younger than he thought

The night falls. With it a softness -- the last indulgent lukewarm air -- permeates what's underneath the skin -- no skin. The light (vintage gold) exhales, makes me want to hold my breath. In darkness the water in canals seems motionless, unfeeling. Unlike the streetlights -- those dance. 
The morning started with a mist, thin, unsure. I woke up first -- it was still dark out. The street glistened, was absolutely silent. A car floated past the strong beam of a streetlight, a science-fiction scene. I closed the balcony door, picked up a DVD from the floor by the TV -- The Sopranos, season 3, disc 4 -- poured water in the kettle, switched it on, click.
I write down a list of groceries -- aubergines, basil, cherry tomatoes, wine -- then mindlessly place a cup of hot coffee on it. Instantaneously 'aubergines' grow fuzzy. I draw an exclamation mark next to 'wine'.
The day was rising, a pale, unhurried dawn, it reveals, catches clouds wandering off at the top of the sky. It should be a glorious day. Leaves are falling, gliding downwards of their own accord, like theater curtains at the end of a brilliant show. Goodbye to all that; encore, encore!
-- Happy birthday! Coffee?
Someone calls. 
-- Much too, much too close to forty. I gotta go pick a fight, Anthony says and laughs.
-- Thirty-six isn't close to forty, I say and extend a cup.
-- I'm thirty-seven -- am I not? 
-- Two thousand fifteen minus nineteen seventy-nine...
-- That's right -- thirty-six.
He goes on to say it's a great gift, to be younger than he thought. A homemade birthday lunch is a bonus.

In darkness the water in canals seems motionless, unfeeling. Like the streetlights, we'll dance too.
Pasta with Roasted Aubergines and Tomatoes
Adapted from Nigel Slater
Serves 2

This is a pasta dish unmasked by any sauce, and is what it is: a sum of its three key ingredients -- aubergine, tomatoes, garlic. The sweet juices from the roasted vegetables and a generous quantity of olive oil will take care that the lips glisten here. Crush the tomatoes with a fork as they roast to syphon their bright juices into the oil. As pasta, I used conchiglie (shells) to catch an odd bite here and there, and to lock in some of that mushroom flavour that appears when roasted aubergine meets caramelized garlic. Originally, it's penne.

1 large aubergine
250 g cherry tomatoes
3 cloves garlic
8 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
250 g dried conchiglie (shells)
A scarce handful of basil leaves

Set the oven to 200C.

Wipe the aubergine and slice it into thin rounds. Place the slices in a single layer in a large roasting tin. Peel and crush the garlic and scatter over the aubergines. Throw in the tomatoes, whole, and trickle the olive oil. Season well, then bake for 25-30 minutes.

Dump the pasta in a deep pan of salted boiling water. Cook for 9 minutes until al dente. Drain in a colander.

Add the drained pasta to the aubergines and toss gently together. Adjust the seasoning if needed. Tear the basil leaves and add to the lot. 

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