When I lived in Toronto with Rafaella, she introduced me to her homemade limoncello. As I gingerly sipped the lemon liqueur from the tiny glass she served me, I asked her if it was a family recipe. No, she said, the nuns in convent, they teach me to make the limoncello. And now, I teach you, yes?
Yes, I replied, but then that day I learned to make her Spaghetti alla Puttanesca instead and never got the limoncello recipe that the nuns taught Rafaella.
We were in her kitchen which were up the steps from the ground floor I sublet from her. She had her pots on the stove and had started to mince garlic. I had my recipe book in hand and scribbled as she explained to me what she was adding to the pot and how long something had to simmer. With her thick Italian accent, sometimes I had to ask her to repeat what she’d said more than once.
After scribbling furiously for maybe 10 minutes, trying to keep up with this diminutive nonna, Rafaella’s spaghetti alla puttanesca was done, and she was dishing it into two small bowls.
I’d been bombarded by the smells from her cooking the entire time I was taking notes and couldn’t wait to dig in. We sat at her kitchen table and I slurped the pasta down. She asked me if I would be able to make the dish next time on my own, I looked at my notes and then at her, and told her that every time I did, I would remember this evening with her.
Do you have a favourite pasta dish?