Pasta Alla Puttanesca
Puttanesca translates as “in the style of the whore.” The name derives from the Italian word puttana which means whore. Puttana in turn arises from the Latin word putida which means stinking.
If you are wondering how this tasty dish became associated with such interesting content. As is often the case when sifting through culinary history, there are multiple explanations. The first interpretation is that the intense aroma, (harking back to the “stinking” Latin definition), would lure men from the street into the local whore house. Thus, the Napolese prostitutes were characterized as the sirens of the culinary world. Three additional accounts all hinge on the fact that Puttanesca sauce is easy and quick to make. The first is that the prostitutes made it for themselves to keep the interruption of their business to a minimum. The second is that they made it for the men awaiting their turn at the brothel. And the final version is that it was a favorite of married women who wished to limit their time in the kitchen so that they may visit their paramour.
3 x 15ml tablespoons olive oil
8 anchovy fillets, drained and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced, crushed or grated
½ teaspoon crushed chilli flakes, or 1–2 x 15ml tablespoons pickled
red jalapeño chilli peppers (drained, sliced and diced), or to taste
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
150g (drained weight) pitted black olives, chopped a bit
2 x 15ml tablespoons small capers, well rinsed and drained
2–3 x 15ml tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, to serve (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste
Put water for pasta on to boil, though you don’t need to get started on the sauce until it is pretty well boiling.
Pour the oil into a wide, shallowish frying pan, casserole or wok, and put on a medium heat.
Add the finely chopped anchovies and cook for about 3 minutes, pressing and pushing with a wooden spoon, until the anchovies have almost “melted”, then add the garlic and chilli flakes (or sliced then diced jalapeños) and cook, stirring for another minute.
This is probably the stage at which you will want to be salting the boiling pasta water and adding the spaghetti to cook according to packet instructions.