15 March 2012

Serendipity, with Anchovies

What do you get when you combine spare time, a chance encounter with a recipe once forgotten, and a ten-day-old baguette?

A delicious dinner, of course.  I had it tonight, in the form of pasta ammuddicata, via a re-reading of an essay by John Thorne titled "Pasta With Anchovies". Ammuddicata is an Italian dialect (exact one, I am not sure. Calabrian, maybe?) word meaning 'bread crumbs' and that picture above is of the ones I made out of the aforementioned baguette. They are sauteed in a little bit of olive oil until golden brown, then sprinkled with some hot pepper flakes.

They are so much better tasting than they have any right to be.  I was eating them right out of the bowl.

But I get ahead of myself.  The recipe for pasta ammuddicata seized my attention today as I read the essay. It has a total of six ingredients, one of which (salt) I ended up not using: anchovy fillets, olive oil, bread crumbs, red pepper flakes, salt, and spaghetti.  I recalled that I was intrigued by the dish a long time ago, when I first read it.  For some reason, I never seemed to have stale bread worth turning into crumbs.

That is, until today.  The remains of a baguette purchased ten days ago, at the request of my darling daughter.  We purchased it at the French bakery just down the street, and she thinks of them as a real treat.  Which, frankly, they are because the bakers there know their craft.  The drawback is, the baguettes are just over two feet long, and as much as me and my offspring like bread, we can't eat the whole thing at a sitting.  Nor would I try.

So I had almost half left, and some little voice told me to leave it in the wrapper, sitting on the counter. "I might need it" I heard the voice say.  Sure enough, I did. Inspiration in the form of pasta ammuddicata!  This version calls for bread crumbs to be sprinkled over the pasta at the eater's discretion. The baguette was, by this time, as hard as a stick of locust wood.  I put it in a heavy plastic bag and beat the hell out of it with a hammer, sifting the crumbs through a colander.

All I needed was some anchovy fillets and spaghetti, which I garnered on a quick shopping trip.  Back in the kitchen, I fired up the stove and set to. Lately I have been stressed out and scattered by life, and it felt good to focus, to get into the zen of it. With six ingredients and very little fuss, I had a feast in very little time.

The pasta went into one white ceramic bowl, a salad into another, and the ammuddicata into another.  I sat at the table on my porch, enjoying the early evening of a perfectly lovely day.  The simplicity of it enhanced the taste, and I chewed contentedly.

Early flowers perfumed the air. My heart felt at peace, my stomach felt full. Dinner should always be so good.


  1. Why are you not a food writer?
    And also, cheap eats are the best.

  2. It's 6:42am and you have me craving anchovies. You pen magically, my friend.

  3. Yeah! Why aren't you a food writer? You make everything sound so good and I don't even like Pasta.

  4. Quite the Yum I'll have to try this.

  5. Your friends ask some excellent questions. Yet another path to consider....

  6. amen, brother! sometimes, the simple acts can focus and settle us in the most comforting ways. gotta cook with love, sugar! xoxoxox

  7. Oh, this recipe sounds so delicious. Gives new meaning to the phrase "soul food."

    Hope the cooking and the eating helped soothe the scattered stress you've had of late.


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...