Thursday, September 30, 2010
Spaghetti and Tomato Sauce
I'm writing this post from the train, laptop on my lap and comfortably seated en route for Toronto. This train has a very bizarre sense of utter loneliness, with internet and plugs at every seat as well as this 'bubble' setup where it seems that you're sitting in a sort of space shuttle from the 1970s. While I enjoy being able to stay connected at all times, there's this sort of strange feeling that the modern way is leading us to become most distant from one another, and to continue our individual endeavours, at all times.
This week, the Social Network comes out. It's a movie I've been looking forward to seeing for some time now. The idea that facebook, the ultimate social network, could have been created by a rather quirky socially awkward Harvard student who was really quite shy and definitely not one of the 'cool kids' is fascinating to me. On the one hand, it seems that facebook (as well as all other social networks) are bringing us together in a way that was never possible before. You can track down old high school friends, colleagues and acquaintances and keep updated with their lives, as well as share with them your 2 cents on the world, your current doings and your most recent activities. On the other hand, it seems that this kind of technology makes us more distant than we've ever been. Instead of a hand written note, we send a quick email. Instead of a phone call, we write a rapid text that we can duplicate to 2,3 or 4 people if need be. We can instantly upload a photo album of a weekend outing on facebook and, instantly, share it with'friends' who will be able to know what you have been up to a couple hours ago but who might have not talked to you in weeks, months or years. The easiness with which we are able to do this also makes us lose the more intimate rapports we used to have with one another.It's the ultimate paradox: we are ever more connected, and ever more alone. We send out mass messages, and don't individualize our thoughts for specific recipients as we once used to do.
Taking the time to reflect on these subjects has helped me take a step back and find a way to get the best of both worlds. I still remember my early teens when I used to have internet dial-up at home, in Paris. My mom would make me want until 10PM so that she wouldn't miss any phone calls before then. I'd get excited just hearing the noise of the computer connecting and getting a signal. Now, I find myself in a train where my brain has been trained to get antsy if a page takes a few seconds to load.
In light of this discussion, it seems quite fitting that today's recipe is a slow-cooked tomato sauce! A good old classic, traditional tomato sauce! To be honest, you can make the recipe in less time if need be (I have a 20 minute version of this recipe here) but if you do have the time, the sauce does benefit from simmering for a while. Actually, the sauce, as many stews and slow-cooked dishes, is even better the next day. I usually make a big batch, and freeze some in small plastic bags. You can use it to top some fish, garnish a pizza, toss it in with some pasta or eat it on a big slice of crusty bread.
Spaghetti and Tomato Sauce
4 garlic cloves, diced
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
1 celery stalk, finely diced
1 small Vidalia onion, finely diced
2 big cans of San Marzano tomatoes
3 tablespoons of tomato paste
5 sprigs of thyme
1 bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Spaghetti, cooked al dente and tossed in a little olive oil and seasoned with some salt and pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Add a good drizzle of olive oil to a stockpot on medium heat. Add the garlic, onion, carrot and celery. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and stir for 5 minutes until the vegetables start to soften. Pour the tomatoes and juice into a bowl, and, using your hands, crush the tomatoes. Once the mixture is smooth, add to the onion and carrot mixture and add the tomato paste. Remove the thyme leaves from the stem and finely chop. Add the thyme and stems to the tomato sauce and stir. Generously season with salt and pepper.
Leave to gently simmer on medium low heat for about an hour, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Discard the bay leaf and thyme sprigs. Once the sauce is ready, blend using an immersion blender until you reach the desired consistency. You can opt for a smooth tomato sauce or a more chunky kind, depending on taste.
Spoon the tomato sauce over the cooked spaghetti, and sprinkle with a good spoonful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.