During my college semester abroad, I met an Italian nonna on the train in Italy. I told her how surprised I was with Italian food: that the simpler the better, unlike the complex sauces I had been eating in France. She helped me pen the recipe to one of her family’s favorites, Linguine with Clams, but I soon forgot about it once I returned home.
Years later when I was a new bride, one of my friends moved to Italy for her husband’s job. She sent me a box of Italian goodies, including some very special dried linguine – perfect for the Nonna’s recipe! I found the scribbled paper tucked into my little recipe box. I had the fresh herbs on hand, from my garden out back, and ran out to the store for fresh clams. Once home, I suddenly realized I had a problem: my new husband didn’t like seafood of any kind! So I briefly steamed open, then chopped the clams to disguise their appearance, and added them to the herb sauce simmering on the stove while I thought up a plan. Unexpectedly, my husband walked in early from work. He took one whiff of the garlic-scented air, and inquired what was for dinner? As he came close for a hello kiss, he poked his nose over the pan and answered for himself, “Oh, smells good, is that ground veal?”
“Yes,” I replied, darting my eyes away while shoving the trashcan full of clamshells outside into the garage. “An authentic pasta dish from Lizette! We will dine as Italians tonight!”
The soft sweetness of fresh clams, the scent of garlic, basil, parsley, and oregano, and just enough heat from a dried chili pepper was too much for my picky eater to resist, and authentic tasting indeed. As he declared while twirling his last forkful of linguine, “Honey, you can make this anytime!”
After dinner, I immediately wrote up a recipe card: Lizette’s Linguine & Veal, which I still have to this day. My now ex-husband (!) still won’t touch a morsel of fish or seafood. But, we enjoyed that delicious dinner dozens of times over the years, with no one the wiser.