A Soup for Nazim

I don’t want to present the famous Turkish Poet Nazim Hikmet,

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Better to introduce him in his poetic words:

 

Autobiography (1962)

by Nâzım Hikmet

I was born in 1902

I never once went back to my birthplace

I don’t like to turn back

at three I served as a pasha’s grandson in Aleppo

at nineteen as a student at Moscow Communist University

at forty-nine I was back in Moscow as the Tcheka Party’s guest

and I’ve been a poet since I was fourteen

some people know all about plants some about fish

I know separation

some people know the names of the stars by heart

I recite absences

I’ve slept in prisons and in grand hotels

I’ve known hunger even a hunger strike and there’s almost no food

I haven’t tasted

at thirty they wanted to hang me

at forty-eight to give me the Peace Prize

which they did

at thirty-six I covered four square meters of concrete in half a year

at fifty-nine I flew from Prague to Havana in eighteen hours

I never saw Lenin I stood watch at his coffin in ’24

in ’61 the tomb I visit is his books

they tried to tear me away from my party

it didn’t work

nor was I crushed under the falling idols

in ’51 I sailed with a young friend into the teeth of death

in ’52 I spent four months flat on my back with a broken heart

waiting to die

I was jealous of the women I loved

I didn’t envy Charlie Chaplin one bit

I deceived my women

I never talked my friends’ backs

I drank but not every day

I earned my bread money honestly what happiness

out of embarrassment for others I lied

I lied so as not to hurt someone else

but I also lied for no reason at all

I’ve ridden in trains planes and cars

most people don’t get the chance

I went to opera

most people haven’t even heard of the opera

and since ’21 I haven’t gone to the places most people visit

mosques churches temples synagogues sorcerers

but I’ve had my coffee grounds read

my writings are published in thirty or forty languages

in my Turkey in my Turkish they’re banned

cancer hasn’t caught up with me yet

and nothing says it will

I’ll never be a prime minister or anything like that

and I wouldn’t want such a life

nor did I go to war

or burrow in bomb shelters in the bottom of the night

and I never had to take to the road under diving planes

but I fell in love at almost sixty

in short comrades

even if today in Berlin I’m croaking of grief

I can say I’ve lived like a human being

and who knows

how much longer I’ll live

what else will happen to me

Soup for Nazim Hikmet
Turkish red lentil soup

As Nazim himself says in this poem, he tasted any kind of food but I was lucky enough to get acquainted with his Italian translator and friend, the late Joyce Lussu and in one of our conversations she told me of the preference of Nazim for the simple and humble of country.

So here the recipe for the Turkish red lentil soup: 5 minutes to prepare, low in calories, healthy, full of good nutrients a real food for the soul…

Ingredients

  • 1 cup red lentils
    1  onion, finely diced
    1  carrot, diced
  • 1 small potato, diced
    ½ teaspoon dried mint
    ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
    6 cups of homemade broth

Directions

  1. Rinse the lentils 2 or 3 times
  2. In a large pot over medium-high heat, put he lentils, potato, carrot, onion, broth, and salt. Bring the soup to a boil.
  3. After it has come to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover the pot until the lentils have fallen apart and the carrots are completely cooked.
  4. After the soup has cooked and the lentils are tender, blend the soup and add more salt if necessary.
  5. Serve the soup with a sprinkle of mint and red pepper flakes, wedges of lemon, and toasted bread.

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Nidi di spaghetti (Spaghetti nests)

Gustare un piatto fatto come Dio comanda è uno dei piaceri solitari più raffinati che l’omo possa godere, da non spartirsi con nessuno, manco con la pirsona alla quale vuoi più bene. (da Gli arancini di Montalbano)

To savor a meal prepared like God intended is one of the most refined solitary pleasures that a man could possibly enjoy, not to be shared with anybody even the person you love most. (You will excuse my translation, but English is not my native language and Camilleri’s language is difficult in itself)

montalbano, the shape of water

One of the most outstanding peculiarity of Inspector Montalbano is for sure his appreciation for food. Traditional Sicilian food prepared by his faithful governess Adelina or enjoyed in one of the “trattoria” in the fictional city of Vigata. Andrea Camilleri, Inspector Montalbano’s “father” has created a language of his own, a mix of Italian and Sicilian, the dialect spoken where the action take place, Sicily. Stories are interwoven with irony, suspense, social comments, introspections and a lot of amazing description of the food.

Today, I felt like preparing a dish that recall the Mediterranean flavors, something that even a sophisticated palate like Montalbano will not disdain. So I started with a tomato sauce rich in oregano, garlic, basil and chilli, and I end shaping the spaghetti like a nest and decorating with a small mozzarella, as we are in Easter season. The result was a tasty main course that also the kids loved.

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Ingredients:

(4 people)

320 gr. Spaghetti

500 gr. of peeled tomato

80 gr. of Cailletier olives

2 tablespoons of capers

6 tablespoons of olive oil

6 cherry mozzarella

Bread crumbs

2 cloves of garlic

15 gr. basil leaves

oregano,  chilli (pepperoncino) and salt to please

This is how it looks before been grated in the oven

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Directions:

  • Grease a small oven pan with olive oil and sprinkle with bread crumbs
  • Peel the garlic and remove the bud if necessary, then grossly chop, put in a small pan with the peeled tomato, oregano, pepperoncino and salt. Let it cook with very low heat for half an hour. Don’t mix them.
  • Roughly chop cailletier olives, basil and capers
  • After half a hour crush the tomato with a wooden spoon, then add the olives, the capers and 4 spoonful of olive oil and put on very low heat for another 15 minutes
  • Meanwhile cook the pasta, and when still very “al dente” (bit hard), drain it an cool with cold water
  • Mix the sauce with the spaghetti, then with the help of a fork and a spoon, prepare six nests, carefully placing them in the greased pan, put a cherry mozzarella in each one.
  • Sprinkle the preparation with more bread crumbs and two spoonful of olive oil, put in the oven at 180’ C. for 10-15 minutes and serve hot.

This is just out of the oven:

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And this how it looks like after eating a generous portion:

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