The last time Neil Perry said ‘enjoy’ to me, I was sitting in an airplane in Australia. I was staring at the wrapper of the sandwich that I was holding against the window. Neil Perry had made this sandwich, you see. And he had proudly commanded me and the other poor devils on this flight to ‘enjoy’. I guess, to be fair, he did not precisely say in so many words ‘enjoy this sandwich’. Perhaps I’m reading too much into the fact that he had written it on the wrapper of the sandwich he had made me. The sun was streaming in and, although nothing was going to make this sandwich less dry than it was, at least, I thought, I could make sure it was warm and dry, not fridge cold and dry.
The thing that was quite astonishing to me was that an airplane sandwich from the new millenium could taste like one from the 1970s. Worse, maybe. Who says evolution can’t go backwards? Clearly the man in charge of the catering division of the airline in question hadn’t been told that. Which is a pity. I say ‘man’ presumptuously. I just can’t bring myself to believe a woman could have devised this thing, let alone expected anybody to eat it. Let alone advertised the fact that she was involved in its conception, if not its inception.
So, when I was checking to see what I could make in the way of ‘there’s not a thing in the kitchen’ spaghetti yesterday, and I came upon his solution for a sauce involving zucchini and this and that, my first thought was it has to be bad. Really, really bad. But upon further consideration and the fact that it was actually quite similar to another sauce I adore, I decided ‘It’s okay, you can go there, even though Neil Perry said ‘enjoy’.
I’ve done very little differently from his ‘Pasta with Simple Zucchini Sauce’
2 medium zucchinis, washed, topped and tailed, coarsely grated
several cloves of garlic chopped finely or minced
chopped fresh red chilli to taste
anchovies – I put in about 6 from a jar in olive oil
parmesan cheese grated
salt and pepper
pouring cream – optional
While the water is boiling, and the spaghetti cooking:
In a wok or similar, in olive oil gently heated, fry the anchovies – mashing as you do so – the garlic and chilli. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring to make sure the zucchini is coated in all the nice things in the pan. After a few minutes, just let it sit on a really low heat. Season to taste. I added cream, not a lot, maybe a couple of tblesps. I doubt it needed it, but I wanted something that would adamantly distinguish me from a person who had just copied a Neil Perry recipe.
Drain the cooked spaghetti, mix into the sauce. Serve, with the cheese to be added by the punter at the table.