Taste Scene

Michael Devlin

Fraghetti and the boomerang book

It was a strange little episode, like an episode of Stranger Things, only without the telekinesis or the Upside-down or Hopper – poor Hopper.

Strolling around the bookshop section of St Vincent de Paul’s in Strabane last week, I happened across a book that I haven’t thought of, never mind encountered for many’s a day. It was The Taste Diaries by a certain Michael Devlin.

1). I was astonished to think of the book still being on sale anywhere and in any capacity, even if it was only making a buck for SVP.

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2). How could anyone have deigned to part with such an informative and entertaining manual?

Paradoxically, I was both delighted to see my old friend and yet affronted that someone had consigned it to the charity pile.

“It wasn’t my copy!” several friends have asserted upon my re-telling of this tale. Of course, these unsolicited declarations immediately foisted suspicion their way. I’ll have to keep an eye.

I am reminded of what JK Rowling said the first time she encountered a Harry Potter on a bookshop shelf. Overcome with joy, she said she dug out a pen, signed a copy and then placed the book back on the shelf. I would have done the same last week for the craic, only I didn’t have a pen on me.

Later that day, I was hoking around on Amazon for a different book (provincial bookshops have become a thing of the past, almost) and I remembered the Taste Diaries at St Vincent’s. Curious to see if it was still a-sale here too, I typed in the title and almost fell off my chair in shock.

There were copies for sale all right but one guy in a place called Greenbelt, Maryland was offing his copies for a small fortune. I kid you not, he was looking for $75 for a second hand copy. $75!

I know the initial print run was small but they’re hardly a collector’s item just yet. $75!!!

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I immediately considered contacting this gentleman/shyster and suggesting a joint business venture. Bearing in mind I still have a boxful of the Taste Diaries in my attic, if he’s shifting copes at that kind of money, we could enter into a mutually beneficial arrangement to wit, I send him the books, he flogs them at outrageous prices and we split the bounty.

On second thoughts, you never know what the future holds either; it might not do any harm to hold onto my remaining books. For instance…

I could get kidnapped when I’m on me hols and the kidnappers might be into cookery and they might post videos to the internet of me cooking under duress. I might be on the evening news every day and the front page of every red top tabloid… ‘Fat Tyrone man still captive and cooking in Uganda’. The Taste Diaries would be flying of the shelves if that happens and I might need that boxful in my attic for repatriation costs and/or a ransom.

In the meantime though, my apathy at near record levels, the chances of me contacting yer man in America are slim to not-on-your-Nellie. Admittedly, I am curious to see if he’s actually selling books at that price but what the heck, I’ll live without knowing.

This week though, because St Vincent reminded me of the Taste Diaries and because next year it’ll be ten years old and because Herself suggested this course of action, I’m taking one of the recipes from the book for a re-run.

Gnocchi or lamb shanks or pesto or chop salad or Janssen’s Temptation?

In the end I’ve opted for a recipe which has become a firm favourite in our house and one which is so easy is hardly even counts as a recipe at all: Fried spaghetti.

It’s great for breakfast, lunch or dinner and because you’re using left-over pasta, it’s another good example of wasting not, wanting not.
It’s also very adaptable and depending on what you’ve got in the house, you could add spring onions, bacon, chicken, red onion, chillies, sausages, choirzo… I once even used left-over roasted potatoes – carbs on carbs! Whatever you might add to an omelette, you can use here.

Fraghetti, as I call it, is great and this is the basic recipe.

INGREDIENTS

large handful of left-over spaghetti or tagliatelle
1 egg
half a clove of garlic, finely sliced
1 small tomato, deseeded and chopped
small handful of grated parmesan
half a chilli pepper, finely chopped
pinch of chopped flat leaf parsley
olive oil
sea salt

THE PLAN

Crack the egg into a medium sized bowl and add the sliced garlic, chilli pepper, parmesan, tomato and parsley. Dump in the cold spaghetti and mix well.

Heat the oil in a frying pan until medium hot and then, using a fork, pick up a little load of the spaghetti eggy mess and place onto the pan. Repeat until all the spaghetti is sizzling in little mounds.

One/two minutes on either side and they’ll be crispy on the outside and moist on the inside.

When cooked, retire to a sheet of kitchen paper to drain the oil slightly, add a touch of sea salt and they’re done. Also works well as a snack with beer, or so I’m told.

Tehe. PS. $75!!!

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