“Pass the basil, would you?” Giovanni asked as he continued to smash away with his pestle and mortar, “and a few more pine nuts too.”
I’d met Giovanni back in 2000 on the train we commuted on together. We became good friends and eventually began to exchange recipes every Saturday evening either at my place or his. He originally came from Genoa and was an expert traditional cook. I too knew how to make pesto, but the way he did it, no kitchen robot, was just something completely heavenly. Because he cared for me, he even made the version of pesto without garlic…I’m allergic to the stuff!
I’d prepared my lemon ricotta cake, a recipe I’d created a few years back and potato gnocchi to go with the pesto but we’d also boil up some spaghetti because, yes spaghetti is traditional. We’d decided to just dine with the two first courses and dessert with a crisp green salad to accompany the pastas.
We called the rest of our families to get the table set, opened a bottle of wine and prepared the salad. Finally we set down to dinner at 7:30.
“Giovanni! You’ve done it again!” I cried as I put the first forkful of pasta into my mouth. Everyone else sighed in ecstatic agreement.
“Thank you dear Isabel!” he replied, “would you pass me the basil pot?”
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Pesto alla genovese: