Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


How memory works; and summer's best pasta dish.

It used to be said that humans can remember up to seven digits easily and it got harder after that; hence the original exchange-based seven-digit telephone numbers. You used to be able to remember the numbers of family and close friends without resorting to that exquisite 1950s Bakelite/plastic relic, the teledex.

Yes. I can prove that. Given that the 04 on today’s phone numbers is a given, that leaves eight digits to be recalled. Yet Tracy cannot remember her own phone number ... let alone anyone else's! And I'm not much better. QED, which is an old expression roughly translated into today's language as I told you so.

That figure - seven - occurs in more recent research, once again undertaken exhaustively across a control group of five, which showed that on average home chefs retain a shortlist of exactly seven recipes that they rotate regularly. Of course, beyond the magnificent seven favourites exists an infinity of possibilities with which the home chef occasionally flirts, sometimes even to consummation. Then they revert, satisfied, to the same old seven.

Now: the anthropological explanation, which is as mundane as it is obvious. Simply, man got used to associating a particular activity with each day of the week, as it (a) helped him remember what day it was and (b) meant not having to think too long about what to eat. Male thinks: Today is Thursday, therefore we are eating freshly caught deer, which I am about to go out and hunt. Female thinks: Tomorrow is Friday, and because he will be too tired to hunt after today, I will have to pick berries.

The following recipe falls into the occasional category, but is so tasty it should really be a weekly special, at least during summer. It is also ridiculously easy to make, proving that somewhere along the line man became addicted to hard work, probably when he had to drag home a deer.

Pasta with feta and cherry tomatoes.

Not every pasta sauce has to be cooked. The following is an old favourite which I have probably posted before in the dozen years of this weblog.

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to the boil. Drop in enough rigatoni for however many you are serving. Due to budgetary pressures, I have been using the 65 cent Coles home brand, which are fine to a point but can tend to fall apart if cooked too long. Yield is also less than the name brands which fill out better and hold their shape and texture longer.

Meanwhile, place in a large bowl a dozen halved cherry or similar tomatoes with a cup of chopped spring onions, a cup of feta cut into small cubes (or merely crumbled), half a cup of chopped parsley, and a tablespoon of chopped dill. Add a splash of olive oil and roughly combine ingredients with one rotation of the spoon. Those quantities will serve two – adjust accordingly.

Drain pasta when done to your liking, place into bowls and spoon over fetta and tomato mixture.

No comments: