Aside from reading and drawing comics, the one other thing I really love doing is cooking. I started cooking around High School, and one of the first things I learned to cook was spaghetti. It was easy! Just crack open a spaghetti sauce can, cook the noodles, mix them together and there you go! Spaghetti!
After reading recipe books and watching cooking shows over the years, I learned to cook more elaborate pastas and other tasty things. Favorites of mine include my special “Giant Taco”, simple “White Spaghetti”, “Eric’s Last Stand”, “Super Chicken Curry”, “Super Beef Caldereta”, etc. Some of these recipes I even made video demonstrations of.
I don’t consider myself a great cook. I still have a lot of things to learn. But I think I have reached the point where I understand how cooking works, which allows me to play with recipes and come up with my own. And yesterday I came up with a pasta recipe that I’m particularly happy with that I just had to write about it.
“Three’s Company“, an American sitcom which aired from 1977-1984, is one of my favorite shows. When I’m feeling down and need some cheering up, I watch the show repeatedly. It was one of the very first shows I remember almost watching when I was a kid. It was on very late, and my parents had me sleep at 8:00pm. I stayed awake though, and I’d hear my brother laughing downstairs as he watched it. I was able to catch episodes here and there during reruns years later.
I’m older now and I earn my own money so naturally, it’s revenge time. I have all 8 seasons on DVD, and the show is on when I draw and it keeps me entertained and going on even when I get too tired.
Why am I digressing? Well, in the show, the main character Jack Tripper, played by John Ritter, also loves to cook. In the entire 8 seasons, Jack evolves from a cooking student to a chef who owns his own restaurant. And many times during the show, recipes would be mentioned, recipes with French and Italian names that tantalized your taste buds.
Well in one episode, Jack found himself owing some money to a mobster. Jack didn’t have money to pay for it, but the mobster said he will forgive Jack if he will teach his Italian wife how to cook “Scampi Ala Calabrese“. That must be SOME recipe because it’s enough for a mobster to forgive Jack his $75 dollar debt which in 1979 must have been really big money. What does it taste like, I wondered?
And I’ve been wondering about that for many many years. A couple of years ago Ilyn asked me what I wanted for my birthday, and since this episode was on, I said well, I’d be happy if you could cook me “Scampi Ala Calabrese”! Well, two years later it looks like it’s never going to happen. In fairness, it’s near impossible to find recipes for it anywhere, even online. Even the show doesn’t say what the ingredients are except at some point it looks like shrimp when they eat it.
I finally broke down the other day after seeing the episode again and said, well shit! I just have to learn how to do this now. This is crazy. I gotta stop wondering about this damned thing and just cook it once and for all.
I didn’t find a recipe online, but I did find a list of ingredients. It’s not exactly a recipe since it doesn’t give quantities and a procedure to cook it. All I know from that list is that it has shrimp, garlic, capers, tomatoes, peppers, fresh herbs, tossed with spaghetti and a bit of red sauce. I had no idea how to cook that properly, but after years of cooking pasta I had an idea of how to cook a version of it.
I tried it, and it worked! Ilyn loved it, and Zara really liked it, and we gave the rest to my parents who also liked it. It’s the very first pasta I cooked where nothing was left after the first serving.
I can’t very well call it “Scampi Ala Calabrese” because it’s not. What I did was simply a guess of what it could possibly be. So I’ll just call it something else.
And it’s all because of Jack.