• MacGyver and Puttanesca more in common than you think!

    The year was 1985 and the world needed a new television hero.

    A bunch of TV executives were sat down, they included Donald P. Bellisario, the man behind Knightrider and the Airwolf, and Henry Winkler, yes, Arthur Fonzarelli... The Fonz! Brainstorming and storyboarding ensued, and out came a character set to take the world of Saturday TV alight, Angus MacGyver was born.

    With mullet hair and a puffer jacket in tow, this scientist who refused to handle a gun knew how to take a paperclip and his trusty pen knife and create something from nothing, evading capture and subsequent death every week. The simplicity, the lack of raz-ma-tazz made him a genius.

    MacGyver was the Spaghetti Puttanesca of TV.

    Repeat after me; Poo-tah-neh-sskah

    It's literal translation; Whores Spaghetti. It is the best of Italy, using three to four simple ingredients, it's the way that Italians turn a marginally bad day to a feast with minimum fuss. It's quick, it's easy, it's simple... it really does suit the title well! But in all seriousness, this is one of Italy's most famous dishes, one of the South's biggest exports after Pizza. It's hard to see why it wouldn't be.

    Were whores responsible?
    Whores were not responsible in the making of this dish. Or rather, folklore seems to think that they were. The traditional story goes something along the lines of;

    "When the 'working ladies' would be done for the evening, they'd have very little in the home by way of food, so whatever ingredients were left they would make something out of it. And thus the Puttanesca came to life".However, more recently I have come across articles giving a very different account of its origins; and it was the first time the words Spaghetti Puttanesca appear in cooking history. Apparently this is all down to an architect called Sandro Petti who owned his own restaurant.

    "I was finishing the evening service in my restaurant one evening when a group of friends walked in through the doors. They were hungry, but I had nothing left apart from a few fresh ingredients we kept on stock. I told the guys that I had nothing but they insisted and yelled 'Facci una puttanata qualisiasi' (throw together anything you have - puttanata is a crude way of saying 'cock up') and so I did, sticking together olives, capers, tomatoes and Spaghetti. They asked me what it was called, I said Spaghetti Puttanesca." 

    Whether or not this, or the first story is the real etimology of Spaghetti Puttanesca, we will never truly know, but I take something else from Spaghetti Puttanesca.

    Italian cuisine is about simplicity

    Maybe it's not just the Puttanesca that is like MacGyver after all, but it's the best individual dish I can think of to compare. No matter where you go, what food you eat, Italian food is all about simplicity. It's rare you will find a pasta dish with more than 5 ingredients as a whole. Meats aren't necessarily coated in spices, seafood rarely cooked away from charcoal; and just like MacGyver, Italian food uses what is local, what is accessible to create the dishes, it requires balance, time and patience.

    MacGyver never needed more than his penknife, Italian cuisine is equally less complicated.

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