Rafaella’s Spaghetti alla (P)uttanesca #atozchallenge

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge. Each post this month will be associated with a letter of the alphabet with the theme ‘Food Memories‘.


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.

The only spaghetti alla puttanesca recipe I’ll ever need

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?

10 thoughts on “Rafaella’s Spaghetti alla (P)uttanesca #atozchallenge

  1. There was a book I read to my class back in the days when I was a teacher. It was called “A Series of Unfortunate Events” by Lemony Snicket.
    In the first book the orphaned children had to prepare a dinner for their uncle with hardly any money. They found the recipe for puttanesca and went to a great deal of trouble to prepare the tasty meal for an unappreciative group of his friends.
    Your recipe sounds wonderful. I must try it again soon.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve heard of that series of books but not yet read it. Well, the recipe is Rafaella’s family recipe and I’m sure it’ll taste different from other versions you’ve had. It certainly did for me 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. There was something truly magical about this food memory. The missed opportunity of getting the recipe for the limoncello the nuns taught her how to make but getting the recipe for a pasta dish that will forever remind you of her. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for still reading my A to Z posts! Everytime I see limoncello, I think of Rafaella. I try to keep in touch with her son who’s more tech-savvy, and the last I heard, she wasn’t doing well which just makes me sad 😦


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s