"One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating."
The glorious sound of Luciano Pavarotti's voice is the music of my childhood.
Years ago, my parents, who are incredibly knowledgeable opera affectionados (or fanatics, as I prefer to call them), were two of Mr. Pavarotti's most enthusiastic fans. They would play his recordings relentlessly... mainly at dinnertime, whilst my mother was preparing our evening meal. And, yes, when I say "recordings", I mean RECORDS... Remember those big, round, black things that crackled a little??! Even with the crackles, his voice was... perfection. They didn't call him "King of the High C's" for nothing, and even my young, un-trained ear could plainly recognize his greatness.
To this day, I enjoy indulging myself in the sound Pavarotti's incomparable voice. My cd library is crammed with his albums. To celebrate the Italian victory at the last World Cup, the first thing I did was jump up of the couch, shrieking with delight, and BLASTED Pavarotti singing "Nessun Dorma". Victory!!
Then, I cooked my family an enormous vat of pasta, and set the table with red, white and green candles.
And I'm not even Italian.
Luciano Pavarotti was a passionate man, to put it mildly. One of the things that he was MOST passionate about, besides music, was food. His long-time manager, Herbert Breslin, wrote:
"Luciano thinks about food all the time. It is not just that he likes to eat; he loves to smell food, to touch food, to prepare food, to think about food, to talk about food. When he comes into a room, he begins sniffing…and his first question is: 'What smells so good?' "
And so, in honour of The Maestro, whose music has brought me such pleasure during my lifetime, and moved me to such levels of emotion, I humbly offer one of my favourite pasta recipes. It is the dish we feasted on to celebrate the Italian Victory. I hope he would have approved, because it smells as good as it tastes:
Pasta with Herbs, Lemon, and Shrimp Sauce
3/4 lb spaghetti or linguini, cooked al dente
1/2 c butter (4 oz or 1 stick)
Grated zest of 1 large lemon
6 large garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 tsp hot red pepper flakes
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp dried oregano
1 lb medium shrimp, shelled and de-veined
1/2 c finely chopped fresh parsley
2 whole green onions, finely chopped
Lots of freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Melt butter in a large, heavy skillet. Add the lemon zest, garlic, red pepper flakes, basil and oregano, and cook 2 minutes. Add shrimp and saute until opaque, about 4 minutes. Add parsley, green onions, salt and pepper, and cook 1 minute. Stir in lemon juice and cook another minute, then toss with hot pasta and Parmesan cheese.
Serve at once, with extra Parmesan, and don't forget to uncork a beautiful bottle of Italian white wine...