Meeting your replacement

The worst thing about moving to new places is leaving other ones behind. The best thing about moving around Europe is that you’ll never lack a place to crash. The weirdest thing about moving on is when you go back to stay over at your old flat, and nothing is as it was before.

Of course it’s inevitable that you’re replaced the moment you carry your last bag of belongings over the threshold, but it still feels a bit funny to witness it with your own eyes. When I went back to Turin about a month ago, the Queen’s and my own replacement had only just moved in. I was probably more at ease in that flat than they were at that point, as had happened to me in the past, too, when flatmates from before me came to stay over in my first month or two. What didn’t help in their case, was that despite being in their twenties, this was the boys’ first time living away from their parents’ – I swear they were practically children, playing house away from mum’s supervision.

It was pretty intriguing to watch the new household that had come together – my previous flatmate, Blenderman, in his early thirties, with his routines and his habits, and these two youngsters, still finding their way in the brand new environment they suddenly found themselves in. The most spectacular thing about the whole situation was how utterly clueless they were when it came to cooking and cleaning. The whole Italian stereotype of the mammone, the mummy’s boy, materialised right before my eyes. They kept throwing plastic in with the organic waste, and banana peels in the waste paper basket. They kept putting apples in the fridge. They kept draining their tins of tuna right over the dishes they’d just rinsed. And of course, they kept eating pasta with tuna, that staple of the newly independent.

Imagine my surprise, when I’d cooked some lunch for the whole flat, and the boys were absolutely astonished to see I’d made pasta with tuna and green beans. “Wow, pasta and green beans, that’s so weird, I’ve never seen that! Did you just make that up yourself or is it, like, a real recipe or something? So novel!” Dude, are you kidding me? You eat nothing but pasta with tuna and tomato sauce, but pasta with tuna and green beans is weird? It’s that typical Italian tendency: there are recipes that your mum knows and that are thus legit, and there are recipes that your mum doesn’t know and wouldn’t come up with that are therefore weird and, depending on the person, exciting, to be mistrusted, or simply blasphemous.

But here, tuna and green beans is totally a classic. Tuna and green beans is one of the golden combinations of this world, like fish and lemon, chocolate and coffee, whisky and cigars. It’s not as unhealthy as you might imagine and it’s even easier than tuna and tomato sauce. Give it a shot.


For 4 half broke, newly independents, use:

  • a half kilo bag of penne
  • 2 tins of tuna
  • 4 sizeable handfuls of green beans
  • some olive oil
  • two cloves of garlic
  • some freshly ground black pepper

Boil your pasta as normal, in plenty of water with enough salt.

Put a frying pan with some olive oil on the lowest heat you can manage, then add the cloves of garlic, peeled and bruised but not chopped – you’ll be taking them out later.

Remove the ends from your green beans, wash them, break them in halves on thirds, and blanch them in salted water for a couple of minutes. Drain them, then add them to the frying pan, still on the lowest heat imaginable. Remove the garlic (unless you like to eat it, like I do), add the drained tuna. When your pasta is done, drain it and add it to the beans and pasta pan. Add some freshly ground black pepper and mix well.



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 Meeting your replacement

  1. vexillaregis says:

    Shall I disclose to you the secrets of tuna and orange juice, Ms D?


  2. vader says:

    Dit was weer eens ouderwetsch hilarisch, over die nieuwe bewoners. En het eten is ook nog lekker. Mooi.


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