Tilting at Windmills

The title comes from the novel “Don Quixote de la Mancha” written by Miguel De Cervantes in the early 1600’s. Something about this knight, errand’s adventures have always appealed to me. They conjure up a romantic image of a knight fighting injustice against all odds. Even the protagonist’s name found its way in to the popular lexicon as “quixotic” meaning idealistic and impractical. Many considered senor Quixote a few pieces of armour short of a full suit, if you get my drift. Thus the famous title, Tilting (or fighting with) windmills, since Quixote viewed them as evil giants.

Okay, thanks for the little lesson in literature, but what the hay does this have to do with a blog about food?

My Don Quixote Complex and my Mission Statement

I think most of us see ourselves in a more romantic light than our friends and associates would harbour. Certainly I have Tilted at a fare number of windmills in my life, and in my heart of hearts, I enjoy the tilting. Which brings me to my mission statement in writing this blog: To change the world back to a more sedate pace where time allows for the pleasures of the table, the conversation of family and friends, and the enjoyment of Mans’ (I use that word inclusively) rich creations in art, music, and literature.

Give me a minute while I mount my horse. I’m having a little difficulty with my armour, and my face guard keeps dropping over my eyes. Ahhh, I think I see a windmill.

Not a hope in hell you say?

I agree that there is little hope in changing our modern society’s obsessive, frenetic and time poor, pace. All of our modern conveniences have failed to dent our mythic battle with time. We now have third and forth generation time- management systems to help us stay on track, using all the latest integrated technologies, of blackberries, laptops, and home computers. How did we ever manage to live our lives with out cell phones? There cialis cheap are condos now that allow you to turn on the stove from a remote on your way home.

HOWEVER: Nothing has ever been gained by not trying. You got it, tilting at windmills. Add the sound of a galloping horse please.

The Island Theory

The Island Theory, which I am making up as I go along, states that, creating little islands of peace and tranquility in your life lead eventual to a more rational approach to living.

The island I want to talk about most is the dinning table and the food you put there and the friends and family you invite. (More islands later, they take time to build and its better to get one completed before you start on the next.)


A dinner table

Enough chairs to seat the invited

Enough dishes to serve the food to the invited, (we’re not talking Royal Dolton, cut crystal wine glasses or Grand Cru). Really, anything goes, and will be the subject of discussions as this knight errant rides around the countryside making the world safe from time deprivation.

The invited. Invite your kids to dinner one evening a week, no TV, and only good background music. Make the invitation formal; post it on their cell phones, computers, and day timers. Spell out the consequences on not attending, such as cutting of their cell phone allowance.

Food and Wine. (Don’t worry, I’m not asking you to break the budget on fine wine or haute cuisine.

Easily prepared recipes like the one I am going to include here in a minute or two.

But First a Proviso.

Besides being a Knight errant (I love that) I am also first and foremost totally devoted to the foods of the Mediterranean and especially the food of Italy. The keynote to all Mediterranean food is freshness, and simplicity. I will rave more about Italy and the Mediterranean diet and way of life in other postings. For now remember the keys: freshness and simplicity.

This recipe takes about twenty-twenty five minutes to prepare, cook and serve, and will make you an instant star on the food scene.

Fresh* Tomato Sauce with Pasta

*In this case, fresh is canned, it is quicker, and if you use a good quality brand of plum tomatoes, you are getting riper tomatoes than the pale, insipid bland tasting crap (sorry tomatoes), referred to as field grown.

What You Need

2 large cans of Italian Plum tomatoes

I pound of Spaghettini

Real Parmesan cheese . (None of that shaker stuff please!)

4 large Garlic gloves as thinly sliced as you can manage, not chopped. (Sorry fresh gloves, no garlic salt, or powder. Fresh garlic is not easy on the breath, but the really bad smell associate with garlic breath comes from the garlic salt, and powdered kind.)

Extra Virgin Olive oil. (Don’t cheat on a cheaper olive oil.)

Sea salt (that’s right, not the other stuff.) and fresh ground black pepper. (Are you getting it now? Do not use the pre ground stuff, which goes rancid very quickly and sometimes contains fillers.)

How to Throw it Together

Put a large pot of water on to boil. Do not salt the water until the water boils. In a large sauté pan pre heated on medium heat, pour in about ¼ cup or more of Extra Virgin olive oil. Let the olive oil heat until in starts to ripple. Add the garlic. With in thirty seconds you will smell the wonderful aroma. Immediately add the two cans of tomatoes. Turn up the head to high and mash the tomatoes up a little with a wooden spoon.

Bye this time the water will be boiling; add a handful of kosher salt give it a minute to come back to a boil, add the pasta and stir with a fork for a minute. While the Pasta is cooking for about 8 minutes turn down the tomatoes to medium heat and continue to cook stirring occasionally. When the pasta is ready, spoon about a tablespoon of the pasta water into the tomato sauce, taste and correct the seasoning by adding more salt if need, and a couple of grindings of fresh pepper.

Drain the pasta, return it to the pot, and stir in some more olive oil (don’t worry it’s good for you). Divide the pasta into pasta bowls equal to the number of guess, ladle on the sauce to each dish, and then sprinkle the top with the grated cheese. Serve.

How easy is that?

Follow with conversation sparked by the food. Candles and wine for those of age help lubricate this a bit. You can follow with a fresh green salad, and for dessert sliced pears with blue cheese, but it’s not necessary.

Now that I am refreshed with good food, and winning conversation, I will mount my trusty horse, Rocinate, and go tilt at a windmill.

PS Here is a wonderful quote I thought mirrors the sentiment in this posting.

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail”

Ralph Waldo Emerson


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