Contrast

It’s always fun to reminisce and reflect upon the past. I think I’ve always gone through life with a lot of conviction and belief in myself but in hindsight, it was a little misplaced. I’m glad to be rid of many of the labels I used to don with pride in my younger years. I can almost see my friends rolling their eyes and hear their exasperated exclamations of, “You are still young!” But you get my drift!

I used to be such a shallow, materialistic, emotional, irrational and impulsive person. Didn’t I sound like such fun to be around? I’m really glad to have shed off the side of my persona who thrived on material goods and shopping because I’m thoroughly embarrassed now that I was ever known as a “shopaholic”. Sure, my wardrobe was a lot more enviable and I repeated outfits a lot less but I think it says more about my character that I am able to see past the fluff of bullshit heavily doused with perfume!

As much as I wish to still be 18 some days, I’m grateful for the subtlety and maturity the past few years have graced upon me. Besides, I’m not too resentful yet for I still get carded sometimes so I must still look wide-eyed and innocent ;) For those of you who still think of me as the girl with a massive headband on her head and dressed in expensive frocks and always overdressed for the occasion; that girl is no more. I almost wish someone had prodded me those years ago and said, “Did you know you’re kind of ridiculous?” I’m pretty sure my family did but I probably pranced away on a rainbow-coloured cloud of indignation, leaving a trail of glitter in my wake.

I guess I just had some growing up to do. I no longer flounce around in ridiculous dresses, I no longer wear bows pretending to be a life-sized present, I no longer waste my time browsing online stores, I don’t even drink expensive cocktails anymore (beer and gin+tonics are perfect, thank you!). Best part is I love Low-Key Adult Sophia a lot more than High Maintenance Princess Sophia.

(Okay, I probably diverted my money to food, but I still spend WAY less than I did when I was shopping. A designer dress gets me three or four fantastic meals and those meals are more memorable than a dress that if worn once and photographed in, I have to keep in my closet for another 6 months until people forget I own it. A degustation meal at Ezard is pretty much on par with one dress from Sportsgirl, did you know? How crazy is that?! I’ll take Ezard over Sportsgirl, please! The benefits of being a reformed shopaholic is that my closet is bursting with pretty dresses that are unworn because I never had the occasion to wear them as I was too busy being broke and thus only ate at cheap student places – oh the irony!)

Carbonara

Carbonara

I speak of my past because I revisited a dish I used to make a lot many years back. I don’t know why I stopped but I was feeling lazy today and this was the dish that came to mind as it’s relatively effortless. I used to make this so often that I don’t even need the recipe to make it anymore, but I Googled to find it for those who need precise measurements (I come from ‘a pinch of this’ sort of measurement style).

Spaghetti Carbonara
Serves 1 rescued-from-the-wild-ravenous person, or 2 medium eaters
Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s How To Eat

1/2lb spaghetti
4 oz pancetta or bacon, diced, fats separated from the meaty bits
2 tsp olive oil
4 Tbsp white wine (confession: I used 1 cup today because I’m a little boozy like that)
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Powdered nutmeg (I ran out so I swapped for cinnamon – it worked!)
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
Freshly ground black pepper
A few Basil leaves

1. Bring water to boil, salt liberally, and cook spaghetti until al dente (my go to time is 11 minutes on low-medium heat).

2. Combine the egg and egg yolk in a bowl, whisk them together gently with a fork. Add a few dashes of nutmeg and freshly ground black pepper and combine. Add in the freshly grated parmesan and combine well. Set aside.

3. About 5 minutes into cooking the pasta, heat oil in a deep pan, then add in the fatty bits of the diced pancetta/bacon. Fry until crisp, then add the meaty dice. Fry until properly cooked and crisp.

4. Add in the white wine and reduce until you’re left with about 2 Tbsp of delicious combo of wine and rendered fat juices. (Or if you’re like me and threw in a cup of white wine, watch the whole thing turn into a flambe and panic about setting off the smoke alarm and then proceed to go, “WOW! COOL!” Accidental flambes are fun.)

5. By this time, your pasta would’ve been cooked so drain that into a colander and turn off the flame for the pan. Throw the unsalted butter into the still-warm pan, add in the pasta and toss with the diced meat and its gorgeous juices until the spaghetti is well coated.

6. Pour in the yolk mixture and stir together until well combined. The heat from the just-cooked pasta and your still-warm pan will cook the egg just enough for it to be safe to eat.

7. Serve on a plate and shred some fresh basil leaves for a hint of delicious aroma with your very sinful pasta dish.

Carbonara flashback

Carbonara flashback from 2006

I wasn’t kidding when I said I’ve been making this dish for a while now.

It’s funny how things and people evolve through the years, isn’t it? I used to be such a stickler to the recipe but now I just wing it completely confident I’d make it delicious, even missing the nutmeg.

This is my favourite kind of carbonara, not the creamy white sauce versions that people seem to love. Does anyone else find those versions of carbonara absolutely revolting and overwhelming? I only know one restaurant that makes that sort of carbonara that I can stomach, and the restaurant is all the way back in Malaysia, unfortunately (I’m talking about Dave’s in 1 Utama).

I wonder what this dish would look like a few more years down the road. Most of all, I wonder what I’ll be like. Even more pleasant, I hope!

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2 Comments on “Contrast”

  1. cclarebear says:

    wow, that looks really good – better than any restaurant cabonara i’ve ever seen.

    re: the shopaholic thing though… wearing an inappropriately fancy dress for no reason, is sometimes the most fun ever ;)