One of the best things about being a foreigner in Italy is when your foreign friends come visit. It’s not that I don’t have friends here, it’s just that my friends here are Italian and therefore inherently unimpressed by anything I have to offer. My foreign friends, on the other hand, are dead excited about just about anything I show or feed them.
It’s great, you get to feel so cool for three or so days, and you barely have to do anything for it. All the cool Italian things that the Italians have come up with over the ages are bound to please, and anything you propose is ‘ your idea’, so you get all the credit. Never mind that people here have been doing this shit for centuries, you might as well have invented it yourself for all the praise you get for it. Italians are eager to please my foreign friends, because they want Italy to have a nice reputation abroad. I want to please my friends because it makes me feel like I’m so clever for picking a nice country to live in.
My best pal from school recently came to stay over, and as always, I took her round town to do all my favourite things and get brownie points for knowing cool places. My local, Italian friends asked me where I’d taken her so far. I’m sure they were after “all the museums in town”, but all I had to offer was “6 out of 8 of my favourite bars”. After a night in one such bars, one of my friends told me upon saying goodnight: “And now you’re going to take her home and make her pasta aglio olio e peperoncino, right?!” He looked at me with the face of a man who has put his trust in you. A man who has placed the honour of his country in your hands. A man that you cannot let down. And I just figured, ‘more easy brownie points, why not!’.
Pasta aglio olio e peperoncino is exactly what it says on the tin: pasta with garlic, oil and chili. It’s dead easy and another easy way to make a good impression, especially on drunk people as it has everything a waster needs: salt, grease, carbs and a kick. As said, Italians have been doing this for ages, but when you make this for your foreign friends, suddenly you’re some sort of fucking genius. The next time you’re trying to impress someone or the next time you’re drunk and hungry, go for this.
For two, you’ll need:
- enough pasta (150 gr more or less)
- one clove of garlic
- one dried chili, seeds removed, or about 1,5 cm of fresh chili, seeds removed
- one shot glass of olive oil
- some fresh parsley
Boil water for your pasta. Make sure it’s enough and that it has enough salt in it.
On the lowest fire you can possibly manage without resorting to candles, heat the olive oil. Smash your garlic with the base of your palm, then peel it and chuck it in the oil as is, presumably in two, max three pieces. Slice your chili open, remove (most of) the seeds, finely chop it, and add it to the oil.
Stir occasionally, and make sure that the heat is low enough so as not to burn anything – your garlic shouldn’t go brown.
In the meantime, boil your pasta. Once it’s done, drain it and add it to the oil. Top with some freshly chopped parsley and you’re all set!