You could sit across from the same man on the same bus every Monday through Friday or meet him under a waterfall and never fall in love with him. You might say hello to him, you might even say “Yea, I’ll go to the movies with you.” You might date this perfectly acceptable man and marry him. As people do.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that when you walk into the room and there he is standing, your heart starts pumping new blood to every inch of your body and the hairs on your arms start to tingle.
And you might open a box of practical noodles when you get home and mix in a can of perfectly acceptable cream of mushroom soup and call that dinner. There is nothing wrong with marrying a man who doesn’t move you from the inside out and eating beige food, I am just saying there are other options. Worth considering.
There is the opportunity within the space of half an hour say–to recreate a humble plate of Umbrian farro stirred into a deep red tomato sauce, with cheesy strands of an earthy fresh mozzarella, and hints that Winter will end one day with fresh and fragrant basil leaves drifting through the grains–that you ate on a stolen cold and rainy afternoon at a restaurant hidden down one of the many stepped and steep cobblestoned streets of Perugia.
First buy the farro. Buy the “pearled” variety so that you don’t have to soak it. Get it in a pan of water with a spill of delicious olive oil, salt, pepper, a bay leaf, parsley sprig and thyme. Meanwhile, thinly slice three to four garlic cloves and start them sizzling in more of the same delicious olive oil along with about 8 whole fresh, grown in dirt basil. Smash a can of whole San Marzano tomatoes that were picked at the peak of ripeness somewhere around Naples. Just before the garlic is noticeably golden, add the tomatoes. Taste for salt and pepper, and if you like heat, add it in the form of a pepperoncino. If you are worried about not being able to find it again, add it to the oil in the beginning for just a minute or two. Chop up some fresh mozzarella and grate a good handful of Parmigiano Reggiano. When the farro still has a chewiness, but no dryness, drain well and stir into the bubbling sauce. Add the cheeses and more fresh basil leaves, ripped in to taste. Taste again for salt and pepper. If your olive oil is so beautiful you could sip it, drizzle a bit more over the top and stir through.
Serve with a salad of spicy leaves and fat, fragrant, handmade sausages.