So I lit my kitchen on fire.
I hadn’t cooked at home in a while and I felt like it was time to perform one of those activities that used to make me feel healthy and happy. For many reasons, I just stopped doing a lot of those. I went and bought fresh clams, parsley, and a new bottle of olive oil. I boiled some water and cooked my pasta al dente and then put my 1/2 cup of olive oil in a saucepan to heat up before I added my garlic and shallots. All was prepped and I thought I would give it some time so I put a few socks away and then came back to a smoky kitchen and a pan of olive oil that then right on cue, burst into flames.
Apparently, I had missed the class that tells you not to put water on a grease fire so I watched flames leap up over my sink and up to the ceiling. I proceeded to run through my kitchen to the front door of my apartment sloshing hot flaming oil all over my carpet. Don’t ask me what I thought I was doing. Apparently, my mind was detached from my body and I thought that if I made it outside, it would all go away. I did make it to my front door and it all did miraculously go away. I don’t know how or why but I won’t ask the gods about that.
The next thing I remember is standing outside on my balcony looking into my screen door at a smoked out apartment. With the sound of the fire alarm in the background, I held my burnt pan in my one burnt hand and my phone in the other breathing heavily for what seemed like twenty minutes.
At this point, I couldn’t even walk into my apartment without some minor suffocation so I made sure that nothing was slowly burning and all fire was out, I put the pan slowly back on a non-lit burner and grabbed my bag and left to go find dinner.
This would be a scene for anyone. For me, this was it. This was the final punch in the face after three months or maybe more of dealing with silly financial struggles, writer’s block, break-ups of all kinds, professional fall-outs, job adjustments, and health scares. I had this fantastic idea that I would cook an amazing meal on my night off and it would help me to climb out of this hole I felt I was in. Then, someone just took a match, lit it, and threw it down there in that hole with me.
Since then, I've cleaned up my oil-laden walls and floors, I’ve gotten out of town to be taken care of by my parents, and spent time with amazing and supportive friends. I feel a bit more rational, a lot less crazy, and slowly but surely, reemerging out on the other side.. and writing about it.
My stubborn personality gave me the determination to try these damn linguine and clams again. I remade it for the sole purpose of proving to myself that I could-igniting a different sort of fire.
1 pound dried linguine
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
5-7 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 pounds Littleneck clams, scrubbed
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
1 lemon, zested, for garnish
In a large pot, bring to a boil 6 quarts of salted water. Add pasta, stirring constantly in the beginning to prevent it from sticking together. Cook until al dente, about 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan. When almost smoking, add shallots and garlic and saute until soft and translucent, about 3 to 4 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the clams and wine. Cover and simmer for 6 to 8 minutes or until most clams have opened.
Add 2 tablespoons chopped parsley. Whisk in butter to thicken sauce slightly.
Drain pasta in a colander. Place pasta into the clam saute pan and mix thoroughly. Check seasoning.
Pour pasta into large serving bowl. Zest lemon over the dish. Garnish with remaining parsley. Serve immediately.
adapted from Giada DeLaurentiis