I just had the nicest conversation with a lady from Sally Mae student loan servicing about a student loan that had come due that I didn’t know about. Sally Mae has been calling me for months, but it’s always a pre-recorded thing that says “call us back at blah blah blah.” Of course I’m not going to call them back. OF COURSE NOT. I find those calls so unbearably obnoxious that I will go out of my way not to call them back. And if I’m so curious that I can’t bear not knowing what they want (this happens to me a lot—I cannot live without KNOWING things), then I will call using Chris’s phone and a pseudonym to try and ascertain what type of company is calling me. And then I’ll hang up on them.
This nice lady, “Amy,” seemed very understanding about my inability to call them back. She then asked if I’d received the thrice-per-week mailings. The answer is “probably,” but that I immediately recycled them. I’m sorry, but if your mailing doesn’t come with a free panty coupon or in the form of a Sur La Table catalog, the chances of it even making it in the house, let alone getting opened, are slim. That’s why I participate in online bill pay and I have an email address. Gah.
Back when I used to be completely insolvent, I used to get bills and collections and crap en masse from the post office. Getting the mail was about as pleasant an activity as gargling with drain cleaner. Especially because the letters would always be increasingly threatening, and it wasn’t like I was sitting at home on an armchair stuffed with $100 bills, just not paying them out of spite. And then they’d start calling, and I’d say “well, I’m still in college and I can’t afford that payment right now.” And they’d tell me I needed to pay anyway, and I’d be like “well, I’m assuming that you’re expecting American currency and not a handful of polished seashells, so you’re still out of luck.” The end result of this nasty business is that I don’t like to open bills or answer the phone. Same phenomenon as how I don’t answer the door when the bell rings because historically it means that I’m going to be arrested for something stupid, like having my dog off his leash and forgetting to pay the fine (true story–happened to me).
When we finally blazed past my irresponsibility, riding the white steed of my own insouciance, everything was very cordial. Because now that I’m a grown up and I have a bank account with black numbers and I pay all of my bills on time, there has been very little cause for anyone to send me letters. In this case, it was because all of our student loan payments just march out of our bank account automatically each month, so I assumed they were all in good order. I’d forgotten this one existed.
When she told me I was in arrears, I just said “Oh. Hang on. Let me get my wallet.” And then I paid her. And she was friendly. And nobody threatened anybody. And then I was all caught up. It was the most satisfying thing in the world, really. Then she sent me a thank you email, which was a nice touch.
You know what else is satisfying? Sometimes eating a meal that is made entirely of calories and fat grams and cheese and little else.
Have you ever had those days where you wake up and think “Criminy. I’m looking way too thin. I really need to gain some weight, and stat!”? No? No…I haven’t either. But that doesn’t stop me from occasionally waking up and having a whale of a time with food, regardless of whether I feel like Kate Moss or a Manatee on the day in question. I figure, I behave most of the time. I eat organic food and I don’t eat very much meat and I shop the perimeter of the store and I have fiber cereal every morning for breakfast.
So when you see the pasta recipe below, try not to judge too harshly. It’s a small sin out of a person who tries very hard to be clean in matters of the gullet.
It’s not really a recipe, per se. More of a technique.
-Take a good, strong pasta (not something flimsy like angel hair or whatever) and cook it until it is on the firm side of al dente.
-While it’s cooking, deeply caramelize some onions, garlic, mushrooms, and/or whatever vegetables you have on hand that want to go into a pasta dish.
-Then grab a handful of fresh basil, maybe a bit of fresh parsley, a few chunks of parmaggiano, a couple of fresh garlic cloves, and a generous hurling of pine nuts. Put them in a food processor with a enough olive oil to form a paste. Not a pesto—a paste. It’ll be light green and milky-ish looking.
-When the pasta is drained (but still wet and maybe holding a bit of liquid inside its folds), toss it in with your caramelized vegetables.
-Then stir in your basil paste and pour in a good, generous slosh of cream or half and half. Maybe also a small pat of good, European butter. Stir it over medium-low heat until the cream is absorbed. Taste and add a bunch of sea salt to give it oomph.
-Add another good slosh of milk or half and half. When it’s formed a thickish coating on the pasta, but hasn’t been absorbed, throw a few handfuls of finely grated parmaggiano in the mix and serve it with crusty bread and olive oil.
-Add some spicy sausage pieces if you feel like it. Niman Ranch makes a great one that’s organic, humane, and found at Target!
The pasta is so creamy and flavorful, with a shockingly pleasant bite of fresh garlic and a robust sweetness from the caramelized onions. The cheese melts down into the sauce and isn’t visible at all, but makes the cream salty and savory and so pleasant. And yes, the butter matters. And no, you can’t do this with just milk (unless it’s a rich, European-style whole milk MAYBE). It’s not supposed to be calorie conscious. It’s like a fleece blanket on the floor in front of a roaring wood fireplace. It’s comforting and soft, but clearly smacks of earthiness and sex. You’ll like it. I promise.
Then go for a brisk run, possibly to the mailbox. Because a) it’s a bajillion calories and b) there are probably bills in there that you’ve been ignoring for weeks. And maybe a free panty coupon.
P.S. If it’s any grand consolation, you can eat a BIG plate of this and still be consuming far, far fewer calories than a plate of pasta with any kind of dairy-inclusive sauce at a restaurant. Truth.