Like all reasonable women there's nothing I enjoy more than an evening spent sofabound; watching Game of Thrones re-runs, dicking about painting my toenails lurid, unattractive shades and going down on a jar of pesto. Better still if said pesto is accompanied by a vat of spaghetti, a post-gorge roll-up (or, more accurately, a crackpipey e-cig: new year, new beginnings and all) and a hefty whack of ketchup.
Pasta – specifically spaghetti – has featured heavily on both my mind and plate during the festive season. Just before all the mayhem kicked off my mate and I were in the cinema watching Blue is the Warmest Colour, a film that sent us into paroxysms of desire for hours of languorous sex and endless bowls of dripping red sauce in equal, if confusing, measure. Spaghetti is such a visceral foodstuff: like an onion, a Battenberg or a vagina there’s plenty going on under the surface: rife with undercurrents and dark metaphor, is spaghetti. There’s so much tripe bandied around about ordering it on first dates, a puzzling and bizarrely accepted truism that neglects to appreciate the sheer unadultered eroticism of the thing.
Not only is it delicious covered in just about anything, it also looks amazing: stringy ropes of crimson cascading from forks and falling tantalizing into open mouths. Nothing better, tbh. Back in 1957 the nation was duped into believing that it grew on bushes, thanks to a Panorama April Fools that showed a Swiss family carrying out their annual ‘spaghetti harvest’. Hilarious!
It’s the most satisfying meal to cook, too: total comfort cuisine. For the laziest amongst us, it’s only a matter of placing and boiling, even if you leave out all the best bits and opt instead for lashings of cheese. It’s also a fantastically communal dish to serve: just look at Fat Pete Clemenza whipping up his spaghetti sauce in The Godfather - “Come over here, kid, learn something. You never know, you might have to cook for twenty guys someday”. Or Henry Hill’s fury when it goes tits up in Goodfellas: “Right after I got here, I ordered some spaghetti with marinara sauce and I got egg noodles and ketchup.” (I wouldn’t complain, obvs, but can see why he might.) Of course, things end less well for the dude in Seven, but if you gotta go, there are few less pleasant ways to die than tonsils-deep in pasta, IMHO.
Nigella got it when she made carbonara and told everyone to simply bung it into bowls and wheel it into the bedroom. “It’s pure pleasure,” she said. “No chewing.” The hot dachshund in Lady and the Tramp got it, too. And I knew I was #teamlena when first watching Girls, the opening scenes of which show Hannah Horvath chowing down on great ropey lines of the stuff whilst her parents look on, helplessly.
A Saturday morning spent in bed with last night’s spag bol is a Saturday morning well-lived. There’s a reason why Blue’s director, Abdellatif Kechiche, chose to juxtapose one family’s hearty red meat fest with another’s rigorous downing of oysters. When the cast sit around discussing great philosophical questions, they’re still attempting to cover their mouths, to tidy up. But spaghetti doesn’t allow that to happen. It’s carnage on a plate: vaguely fleshy-looking strands covered in bloody chunks of meat. It’s the ultimate in erotic cannibalism: that desire to consume, and be consumed, which is too rarely shown through women’s enjoyment of food on a plate. Films that present such enthusiastic knife-licking are a welcome antidote to recent reports that half of surveyed women feel guilt when eating carbs. Ladies, fill ya boots: I want spaghetti’s sex, and so should you. Spend January as you might December – lolling around creating splendid mosaics in a pan and feeling zero remorse. Chin chin.