#4: Cooking Spaghetti al Limone

When in Rome, when it’s summer, try the spaghetti al limone.

My younger sister and I were lucky enough to visit our father in Germany last summer. I’d just graduated college, and the chance to think in travel itineraries instead of real-world milestones was almost as enchanting as the landmarks I could see. I’m thankful for that amazing opportunity. Rome was an absolute dream. I wanted to take it all in at a fever pace, but as a redhead with a German-Canadian’s cold weather constitution, no amount of gelato could keep me cool enough for unbroken touring. My heart was in the Coliseum but my body temperature was at Mount Vesuvius.

Just after Aventine Hill, we stumbled into a cafe for some mineral water and a fortifying dose of carbs. I couldn’t face a hearty Bolognese with my pasta; even marinara was out of the question. So I chose something that seemed tart, summery, and–prophetically?–adventurous: a creamy, lemony pasta.

I can’t describe how delicious it was. I even didn’t know that this citrus-pasta union existed, or that it could be at once so filling and refreshing, the perfect compliment for this great, yet grueling day. I’ve had cravings for the dish ever since. My solution was simple and a little scary: I’d get a feel for recipes, and try to make something myself. After nosing around, I found a promising starter recipe at Lucillian Delights

My original plan was to document my process food-blog-style. Unfortunately I was working out of an underground communal kitchen, which–Kim and Rebecca can back me up on this–gets less natural sunlight than a solitary confinement cell, and limits that appetizing, foodie-friendly glow. I cooked a portion of spaghetti in one pot while reducing a lemony cream sauce in another (see the recipe below for better details). Thyme and rosemary kept the aroma delicious instead of dish-soapy. Before too long both components were finished and I had a familiar, long-awaited plate. I snapped a photo and immediately dug in.

Simple recipes like this one depend on the quality of their ingredients, and in an ideal world I would have invested in North End parmesan to grate on top, but the experiment was still a success. It’s not something I’d make every day, since I’d like to save both the novelty and my arteries, but I was glad to learn that no less delicious on a wintry Boston afternoon than it was in the Roman shade.

Recipe – Creamy Pasta With Lemon and Thyme: http://www.luculliandelights.com/2009/05/creamy-pasta-with-lemon-and-thyme.html