Today’s post is part of Phaidon’s celebration of ten years of the Silver Spoon cookbook, the quintessential Italian cookbook beloved by chefs all over the world. Below is my story of my “family” pasta al pomodoro.
I lived in London fourteen years ago, when I was 22. I moved there a week after 9/11, and it was a weird time to be living overseas. In the U.S., we were (rightfully) panicked about terrorism and mourning our national tragedy. In London, I felt worlds away from home, and I missed being a part of the national unity that emerged from the ashes of this terrible event. It didn’t help that I was enrolled in an international studies graduate program in London. Every day, it seemed like I heard other students criticize American foreign policy. I don’t do well with confrontation, so instead, I’d just feel awkward and weird about it.
Luckily for me, I was also making friends from all around the world. I shared a flat with a married Finnish couple, a Dutch-Indonesian guy and an Indian woman. The married couple kept to themselves, but my other flatmates were warm and friendly. Because our flat was too tiny to even have a living room, we congregated in the kitchen in the evenings. From Kenneth I learned the beauty of satay and mayonnaise on everything. Dipa taught me to make simple daal curry. I, in turn, taught them how to make ground beef chili and that Haagen Daas was not a German, but American, product. We weren’t alone in our global exchange. My apartment building was brimming with international students, and soon I was participating in a weekly rotation of international potlucks hosted by friends from various parts of the world. Even though I sorely missed being home, I had discovered a global community literally right outside of my bedroom door. It was like riding the “It’s a Small World” ride from Disney World on loop.
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