January 15, 2013

I glanced at my tablescape in horror. It was terribly mismatched and shamefully tacky–reminiscent of a Nicki Minaj and Katy Perry spontaneous combustion on my dining tabletop. I was mortified but nothing could be done. When you reside as a bachelorette in a somewhat temporary living situation on a missionary’s salary, you make do.

In this case, it meant a festive red Christmas tablecloth adorned with an assortment of neon-colored plastic bowls, cups, wooden-handled utensils, and glass Coca Cola plates. I shudder just recalling that nightmare of a setting.

While the interns were in Paraguay, my weekly tutoring student MJ instead spent her time practicing English and correcting Spanish grammar with the girls. I hadn’t seen her in awhile and wanted to invite her to dinner in my “new” house before we all left for our separate Christmas travels.

I don’t get to host very many dinner parties here in Asuncion and there is just something about them that make you feel a little more grown up (that is until you see your hideous table arrangements shouting at you in obnoxious shades of fluorescent green, pink, and orange). I took my job as hostess seriously, and crafted a carefully thought out menu to serve my guest.

In spite of the oppressive heat, I spent the afternoon sweating and perfecting a batch of Drunken Spaghetti accompanied by a cumin-infused cucumber tomato salad and some Spanish pan tomaquet. It may have been slightly sacrilegiously multicultural, but personally, I thought it was delicious (if I may say so myself).

I think I counted at least five times throughout dinner that MJ declared some variation of, “[Lo], you always serve me such weird food!” with especially forceful, awkward emphasis on “weird.” She choked her way through the pasta and bread. Later when I went to take her home, I noticed that she had not touched one bite of her salad. She didn’t even bother to move it around.

Paraguay’s a very humbling place to be, you know?

Drunken Spaghetti (I swear it really is tasty…)
Adapted from Italian Cooking Forever

1 package of spaghetti
1 bottle of red wine (anything but Port will work fine)
Extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves of garlic
1 cup of chopped pancetta (I had to use bacon)
3 small tomatoes, chopped
A handful of fresh basil
A wedge of lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes

Bring a pot of well salted water to the boil and cook your spaghetti for about five minutes. Meanwhile, in a separate pot, bring the wine to a slow boil. Drain the pasta, add to the wine, and cook until al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, heat some olive oil in a pan and saute the bacon and garlic until brown. Drain the cooked pasta of any leftover wine, return to pot, and mix in the bacon, garlic, and more olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, and lots of red pepper flakes.

Serve with fresh tomatoes, chopped basil, and a squeeze of lemon for a delicious tang of acid.

So not weird.

December 086

December 087Scary.

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