When TrickyRicky and I married in August of 1981, I was working as an International Travel Consultant for Jet International Travel in Durban and I just loved my job. We worked out butts off often arriving at work at 7.00am and leaving after 7pm … but we had a great time together. Ticketing was done manually and so groups of thirty people all departing at the same time and making either ten stops or transits meant a lot of ticketing and fare breakdowns, but we loved it.
Our hard work was well rewarded though, with ‘Educational’ trips – the staff was given free trips to distant and exotic lands and we were lavishly entertained, with no holds barred, by the local departments of tourism of the country or city that we were visiting. I travelled extensively and remember meals in the Far East and Europe that knocked my socks off. My passion for food and travel was ignited like the fireworks on a Chinese New Year – rockets I tell you!!!!!
Our honeymoon was no exception; we flew first class on Alitalia to Italy and spent twelve weeks swanning around Europe staying in some infamous hotels and generally having a smashing time. We wallowed in the romance of Europe and Romance. This was my first trip to Italy and, of course, it meant meeting the entire Tripepi, Panas, Di Paoli and Domiro clan. Quite daunting! Of course each new family meant an enormous meal and celebration to – we seemed to be having a wedding reception at every new home and each Mamma was determined to ‘out-do’ the last with tables of her signature dish and local delicacies positively groaning under enough food to feed 20 – 25 people.
In Paris we ate an incredible dinner at the historical Grande dame of the time, Concorde St Lazarre, we were dazzled by rhinestones, feathers, nude dancers and champagne at the Lido on the Champs Elysees – in London TrickyRicky’s Godfather Wladi entertained us at The Playboy Club in Mayfair, complete with Playboy bunny girls doing that infamous bunny ‘dip” as they served us drinks – in Monte Carlo the cousins took us to a gourmet dinner at Papagalo’s, the restaurant that all the stars of the time, such as Kirk Douglas, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Junior frequented, at the top of the Loewe’s Casino (now the Fairmont Hotel) – the cars of the F1 Grand Prix actually race in the tunnel under the hotel …. Safe to say that between all of the wonderful Mamma’s en route and the haute cuisine of the amazing restaurants we had frequented, I had a hard act to follow.
I think that the excitement and sparkle of it all set me on a really determined path to learn how to cook like the Mamma’s! They were a glam bunch of Mamma’s too – not a moustache or black dress among them – they were pure Fendi and Gucci ladies hammering home how one should dress in designer labels and be ‘inside’ your home as you would be ‘outside’. I remember thinking that there were quite a lot of ‘rules’ in being the wife of an Italian!!! Eish!
Luckily, we live in South Africa – far away from the strict scrutiny of ‘The Mammas’ and we settled into married life free from the constraints of the rules of designer labels. Back to our honeymoon – TrickyRicky’s cousin Sonia, in Kent cooked an unforgettable pasta dish for lunch – I remember how much we enjoyed it, so last week when I had some shiny firm brinjals in my kitchen, I decided to try and re-create it. This is a perfect pasta dish for Meat Free Monday and is low cost when brinjals are in season. I had to alter a few cooking methods to fit it into our diets making it lighter and a little more hip-friendly! Needless to say, this took me 30 years back to our honeymoon in Europe …. I can’t believe that next month, we will have been married for 30 years!
Spaghetti al Sugo di Melanzane
Spaghetti with Roasted Brinjal & Tomato Sauce
6 brinjals / eggplant/ aubergines
1 – 2 chilli – optional (we like a little bite to our food but chilli was not part of Sonia’s recipe)
2 onions finely chopped
5 cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 small tins of Tomatoes – squished (see below for my squishing technique 😉
Fresh herbs – thyme and rosemary or basil
1 glass of dry white wine
1 chicken stock cube
Pre-heat your oven to 240d. Wash your brinjals, place them on a baking tray and bake in your oven for 25 – 30 minutes. Take them out of your oven and set them aside to cool down.
In a heavy bottomed pot – heat some olive oil and brown your onion and garlic
Add the thyme, rosemary, chicken stock cube, chilli and black pepper to the browned onion.
Add one glass of dry white wine – or chicken/ vegetable stock if you don’t cook with wine –
and reduce until all of the alcohol has cooked off.
Half the baked brinjals/ eggplant and using a spoon scoop out the soft roasted flesh.
Once you have removed all of the flesh – chop the brinjal up into small chunks and add to your pot with the
garlic, onion, chilli and herbs.
Squishing – place your tinned tomatoes into a bowl.
With a clean hand – squash the tomatoes up. Be careful as the little tomatoes squirt like anything.
The longer you squash – the finer the tomato will be. I prefer this method to using the liquidizer sometimes –
as in some sauces one needs texture.
Add the tomatoes, the brinjal flesh and a cup of water to the pot and bring to the boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes when the sauce will be ready.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil – add your pasta and cook until ready.
When the pasta is ready – drain and add back into your pot.
Add some butter and a few spoons of the sauce and mix well.
Serve individual portions topped with some more sauce and a good grating of parmesan or pecorino cheese. Garnish with a sprig of herbs such as thyme and serve with a glass of your
Happy Birthday our dear Madiba – your humble example has changed the world in the most honourable way
– bringing the wisdom of forgiveness and advocating the potential of peace.
In honour of his service to humanity seek to donate 67 minutes of your time to your
fellow humans …. in absolutely any way…..