Bad weather

Tonight was going to be the night of aubergine curry, but that will have to wait until next week. Something happened and I’d like to give it some attention here.

The weather in the north of Italy has been somewhat dramatic. Heavy rain in the south-east of Liguria has caused some usually tranquil rivers to flood and two of the five towns known as Le Cinque Terre have been damaged severely by the water. Furthermore six deaths have been confirmed and more people are still missing.

Le Cinque Terre are five gorgeous fishermen’s towns on the Ligurian coast. Hundreds of thousands of tourists go there every year to admire the towns and to see the beautiful nature that surrounds them: clear blue sea on one side, green hills on the other, often separated by dramatic cliffs. One of the reasons that the towns look so gorgeous is that the houses, that have been built helter-skelter on the hills, are all painted in different colours. This is typical of the fishermen’s towns in this region: the men out on the sea could recognise their own house from far away thus emotionally reducing the distance and feeling a little less lonely.

In Monterosso and Vernazza, as it is now, the streets are full of mud and rubble. But I was there a few times when it was still lovely. In Vernazza I once ate a gorgeous, super simple pasta with anchovies and tomato. The sun was shining, the waiter was feeling cheekily flirtatious, business was going well, the town was full of people. I really do hope they’ll be able to clean up and rebuild these places, and that the inhabitants will soon be able to get back to their normal lives. And maybe one day I’ll be there again, and maybe I’ll order that pasta from the same cheeky waiter and that it will be as lovely as that one time.

This dish is not for cowards. It's for die-hards who don't fear garlic, chillies or anchovies.

Pasta with tomatoes and anchovies, for 2:

5 anchovies, from a tin is fine
a couple of tomatoes
2 big(ish) cloves of garlic
1 dried chilli
enough pasta

You really only need about this much for one person.

Boil the pasta in water with enough salt. Cut the tomato into wedges. Grind or finely chop the chili, slice the garlic into thin slices. Fry both in some oil but be careful, you absolutely don’t want the garlic to go brown, so low fire, or medium at the most. Add the anchovies. Once that seems to go softish, add the tomato, it only needs a few minutes. Drain the pasta and add to the concoction, drizzle over some more oil if you fancy it and eat it immediately.

Click here for news, pictures and videos on the storms in Liguria.


About La dittatrice

After years of being based in Glasgow, I've recently made a home for myself in Turin, Italy, for the time being, at least. This blog is my captain's log. Here I note down what I did, and what I ate. A story, then a recipe. That's how this here works. Updates on Wednesdays.
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3 Responses to Bad weather

  1. Dave says:

    Oh no! I loved le Cinque Terre so much. I am sure they will recover soon. I have a question about the recipe. I got the impression when I was in Italy that salt is the key ingredient in pasta. How much salt should I add? When do I add the salt? What sort of salt? I’ve been trying to make my pasta taste more Italian but can’t seem to get it right. Maybe you can help!


  2. DaveH! How lovely to hear from you! Cooking pasta is a goddamn art that only the Italians fully appreciate. I’m actually not too sure what to tell you because I always guess quantities (even for my recipes, but don’t tell anyone). However, be sure that you do have enough water and enough salt, that’s important. My pack of De Cecco linguine here recommends 6 litres of water for 500 grammes of pasta. Right, well, just make it a pan full. Add the salt straight away as you put the pan on the fire, and enough of it, too. Italians use coarse salt but I’m not too sure that exists here, I’ve not seen it in supermarkets in Glasgow, anyway. I just use normal salt instead which works (salt is salt, to be honest) but it does feel like you’re adding a ridiculous amount of it. I usually add 1,5 scoop of a wee 5ml spoon, so let’s say a flattened tablespoon on a full pan of water.

    Other important thing: stir regularly. Unlike what most people think, it’s not low maintenance and you can’t (or more accurately, you shouldn’t) just leave it on the fire for 10 minutes and then drain it. While it boils, keep tasting your pasta, don’t rely completely on the cooking time as advertised on the package because once it’s too soft, it’s ruined.

    Also, I’m not sure if you ever do this, but don’t add olive oil to the water, doesn’t do a thing, waste of oil. Sprinkle some over your pasta after you drain it if you fancy.

    Hope this helps!


    • Dave says:

      You can buy rock salt here if that’s what you mean. I cooked pasta tonight and it was surprisingly delicious – more the sauce than the pasta – I also don’t measure but today I think I got it all just right. I do all the things you said to my pasta already and it tastes fine; perhaps it was the magic of being in Italy that made it taste so delicious. The mysteries of Italian cooking…

      Did you get my postcard? I wrote it and then put it in various bags when I went but kept forgetting about it and eventually posted it about a month late. I had to ask my mom if I could put a regular stamp on it or if I needed a special Scottish stamp!


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