Friday, June 1, 2007

The Paradox of Simplicity

One of the most difficult dishes to make is a Roman classic, spaghetti aio e oio (you'll also see it spelled spaghettia aglio e olio.)

The CC will make this perfectly some day, or else he will die trying.

On the surface, the recipe is as simple as it gets. Fry lots of chopped garlic in olive oil, add in parsley and red pepper flakes, some salt and lots of pepper, toss in spaghetti, mix and serve.

So you're probably thinking, what's the freakin' holdup? Just do it!

The problem is the Platonic Ideal.

The dish has to be just so: flavored but not overwhelming, slippery but neither greasy nor wet, intense but not over-powering; the spaghetti must be just under al dente so that when it is tossed, it is still cooking and will become al dente; the garlic must not burn; timing needs to be perfect etc., etc., etc.

Additionally, the problem is that there are so few ingredients that errors cannot be reversed. It is relatively easy to hide things in a large stew; a dish which is so naked has no room for error.

Hence, the paradox of simplicity.

This recipe is as simple as it gets, and yet the CC will never ever serve it in front of an audience. Murphy's Law prevails in those situations, and the CC has both impossibly high standards, and every once in a while, severe stage-fright.

"So enough about the theorizing, O CC; when you make it for yourself, how does it turn out?"

Fuckin' delicious!

"So what's the freakin' holdup?"

The Platonic Ideal still awaits. Sigh!

1 comment:

TerROAR said...

It's "aglio", not "aiglio". Learn italian :-)