There is a shameful lunchtime childhood memory I need to share. I must warn you, it is a little unsettling. In high school I had a Greek friend I would have lunch with everyday. Actually they were twin sisters and I hung out with both. There mother use to make a pasta dish that I really enjoyed. If you are Italian or are a pasta lover, please stop reading now. I’m about to describe how to make this dish, and it is not something I’m proud of.
She would put butter in a frying pan, sprinkle grated parmesan cheese and wait until it became small crunchy brown balls floating in brown butter. She would turn off the heat, add cooked pasta and stir it all together. That’s not so shameful, you are probably saying to yourself. Wait for it! She would separate it into individual containers and top it with ketchup, and place it in the fridge for tomorrow’s lunch boxes, to be eaten at room temperature.
The really shameful part is that it was absolutely delicious. The brown butter was the perfect lubricant, the crunchy overcooked parmesan bits gave it an oily crunch, and the ketchup was sweet, salty, tangy, and tomato based. I want to say “Oh the horror! Ketchup on pasta should be considered a crime punishable by law.” But that would all be lies; this dish is disgustingly delicious. It is the kind of dish you invent on a drunken night of self-loathing. It is the kind of recipe someone consciously trying to insult pasta, Italy, Italians and their heritage would make.
I remember eating so much of their food that their mother began making me my own tupperware. It was the highlight of my day. I savored every moment. I would being by shaking it to evenly distribute the ketchup. I ate every last bite and sometimes stuck my finger in there to pick up leftover parmesan bits. The dish would appear once a week, twice on the lucky weeks.
I mentioned earlier that my friend was Greek, but this was not to imply this is a Greek dish. I don’t know where this dish originated from, I can guarantee that it did hot come from an Italian. Again, my intention is not to insult the culinary art that is pasta. I simply needed to unburden myself from this disgustingly delicious dish. I guess I can’t keep blaming myself for liking it so much, I was but a child. The adults cooking and serving it as “pasta” are the ones that need to be blamed. But the past is the past, and one must forgive in order to move on.
I deiced to recreate the dish for visual purposes hoping, that my now refined tastebuds, would reject it. Unfortunately, it was as disgustingly delicious as I remember it to be. I first placed it on a plate and tried to eat it all grownup like, it just felt wrong. I transferred it into a plastic container and waited until it was room temperature before digging in. It is just not dirty lunchbox pasta until the butter has congeals.