Spaghetti aglio e olio hails from Naples, Italy. In a lovely coincidence, my niece’s boyfriend, Gianluca, does as well. I inquired about the native dish, and he said it’s the Neapolitan choice when you have unexpected guests or want a tasty midnight pasta. (Midnight pasta? Yes, please.) While there are more than the two eponymous ingredients, the list is minimal: a chile Pepper, pecorino Romano cheese, parsley and pasta water.

And then, readers, Gianluca gave me his mother’s recipe for aglio e olio. I received it with awe and gratitude – followed by the slightest confusion. There were no mystical words of wisdom from his mama’s kitchen. Their family recipe, with accommodations for metric conversions, resembled the other aglio e olio recipes I found.

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