Yes, the header was "I Loved, I Lost, I E-mailed."
"Dear Giulia," I wrote. "Just wanted to write to let you know that I just finished your book and I feel as if I devoured a delicious meal!"
To be honest, actually, I felt as if I wanted to eat a delicious meal -- prepared by Giulia herself.
I could relate to Melucci on so many levels. We're around the same age and we both worked in magazine publicity before eventually writing a memoir. We both dated a string of losers (though I went on to find Avo). We both live in Brooklyn. But mostly, I wanted to be her best friend because I love the dress she's wearing in her author photo.
Oh, and did I mention that she's a terrifically funny and perceptive writer?
And unlike me, she is also naturally talented in the kitchen.
Throughout the book, Melucci cleverly interweaves recipes with her romantic interludes and various heartaches.
Reading her book inspired me to continue my efforts to learn to cook. I only wish she had written it years ago when I was a single gal subsisting on greasy takeout. She makes cooking seem easy -- and fun!
Those who don't cook think it's too much trouble, especially if it's just for one. If there is anything I want to convince the world of, it is that this is not the case: Cooking is impossibly easy. Food that is prepared simply from a few fresh ingredients is the food I like best.
Last night, I tried out:
Giulia Melucci's Orzo with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil
1/2 cup orzo
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup cherry tomatoes (a mix of red and yellow if the latter are available), halved
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook the orzo (remember that orzo cooks quicker than regular pasts, so check it earlier than you normally would, 6 minutes should do the trick). Drain the pasta and add the oil. Once it is cooled, stir in the tomatoes, basil, pine nuts, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.
Early September surely must be the best time to prepare this recipe. The mix of red and yellow cherry tomatoes I bought at the co-op were so ripe they were about to burst.
But, once again, I made that same classic beginner's mistake of not checking to see if I had all of the ingredients before proceeding with a recipe. After the orzo was ready, I realized we had no pine nuts in the house. I phoned Avo on his way home from work, but our local gourmet food shop had just closed (at 9 p.m.), so we had to do without.
Then I dispatched Avo to the back garden with a flash light to pick the fresh basil. It was worth the effort. The basil was looking (and tasting) fresher than ever.
Even without the pine nuts, the dish was a taste sensation.
"Nice! Very nice indeed!" Avo declared after his first bite.
"The fresh tomatoes and basil helps," I said.
"Featuring the flavors of summer," said Avo.
Thanks for dinner, Giulia.
Tonight, I'm going to try your Salmon with Lemon-Tarragon Butter over French Lentil Stew. I'll let you know how it goes.