Sunday Supper: reluctant and without zeal edition

I have zero appetite.  Zero.  I forced myself tonight to make something and then not eat it standing over the sink, as I usually do.  As I have written, I have rather lost my interest in cooking.  But… for the sake of decorum, and to militate against barbarism…

Not quite focused, but onion, garlic, bacon well-browned.


I deglazed with a cup of white wine and ground in black pepper.

Added canned tomatoes and chopped at them for a while with my small but valuable spatchula.


Since I was already committing Italian cooking heresy, I went all the way.

I picked some fresh basil, first of the year.   Again… heresy, but, herbs are good.


And oregano…


It’s amazing what a difference there is between fresh and dried oregano.  They almost need to be handled as if they were two different spices.

Herbs chopped and something cheesy labelled “pecorino”, domestic and unworthy of the name, grated…


I had extra base-sauce so I readied it for the freezer.


Enough for two… bucatini.  Usually I think in terms of between 75 and 100 grams for a regular portion.


Add the pasta, directly into the sauce.  Remember, pasta absorbs sauce.


See the butter?  It doesn’t belong in this sauce.  Nevertheless, when you add the cheese, with butter, this is a technique called “manticare”.  It produces a velvety texture. This is heresy also for this style, but… I was in a mood and threw things at the sauce.


Stir it in.  Put it in a bowl.  Eat.


Note my enthusiasm.

Poor man’s bucatini all’amatriciana, loosely so-called, made in a brutal manner.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Panterina says:

    Bucatini all’amatriciana with bacon and basil? Anathema sit! But considering that you had zero appetite and still forced yourself into cooking all the same, a tired priest deserves a break! Buon appetito! (Thanks for the info about the fresh vs. dried oregano: I shall try and compare the difference one day.)

  2. LorrieRob says:

    I’m so glad you militated against barbarism! When I read and see your cooking effots I am inspired to consider living with more appreciation for the culinary arts…we have so little time here in the long run and should make the most of it in appreciation…but it is a bit of effort and I must say I generally do something simple that requires no chopping! But never eat over the sink!!!

  3. Charles E Flynn says:

    A woman who is now a clinical psychologist once told me that bachelors have to guard against becoming a “bear with furniture”. [ROFL!]
    Eating over the sink is bad for you. There should be a proper kitchen table, even if it seats only four, and there should be nothing on it that is not directly concerned with the celebration of the meal (to paraphrase something I read on an outstanding blog recently).

    The plastic bowl with the spaghetti on the electronic scale appears to me to be identical with the plastic bowl that came with the original Braun mechanical scale with the rotating ring for tare. I have used mine hundreds of times to weigh pasta. [You got it! Sharp eye.]

  4. Elizabeth D says:

    I think it is worthwhile to make something on Sunday. I live by myself so always cooking for one and I try to just eat healthy and simple and not to be a glutton. Today I made something lowbrow and not healthy but tastes all right, a salmon macaroni bake that involved deluxe macaroni and cheese mix, cream of celery soup, cheese, canned salmon, peppers and onions and bread crumbs. It was nice with a bowl of tomato and roasted red pepper soup. I made rich and fluffy yellow cupcakes from a mix that you add butter to and very chocolatey homemade frosting with rainbow sprinkles on top. It was too many cupcakes for just me so I brought half of them to the rectory to my pastor and the college boys who live there.

  5. APX says:

    I thought I was the only person who ate over the kitchen sink? I think in the last nine months I only ate at the kitchen table maybe five or six times. Breakfast and lunch (when I bothered to eat lunch) was over the kitchen sink or while driving to school. Supper was always in my room/library whilst studying/writing papers. Kinda makes me miss family suppers.

    I usually don’t even bother to really “cook” anything. At most I throw something in the microwave or if I’m feeling fancy, throw something in the oven that I don’t have to baby-sit. I like cooking, but it seems so pointless and time-consuming when it’s only for myself. Your suppers do give me easy ideas that work for one person, however.

  6. Rich says:

    It’s summer. My appetite is miminal lately, too, despite my working out a bit more.

  7. lucy says:

    Never eat standing up if you can help it. (I get the hiccups when I do that)

    My Italian chef friend, Mario, says, “do whatever makes you happy in the kitchen…” He moved here when he was 17. Heresy, indeed.

  8. kallman says:

    Dear Fr Z

    Looks great.
    NEVER use a metal utensil in an enamelled (Le Creuset) vessel. It will scratch the finish.
    Only use wood or teflon.
    I am sick of cooking also but doing it regularly for my wife and me alternating between Thai and French provincial!

  9. Phillip says:

    Garlic? Basil? OREGANO? BUTTER?! In amatriciana?!

    You really studied in Rome? [I said it was heresy, right?]

    I’m kidding of course. It’s your kitchen – to each his own. I’m sort of a purist, though. But I can’t argue with your choice of pasta. Gotta love bucatini.

  10. david andrew says:

    It’s summer, and this “bachelor-bear” turns to the time-honored practice of cooking meat over fire.

    With respect to culinary heresy, while in the kitchen I don’t expect the Holy Office to show up and tell me I can’t put this in that or combine one with the other . If I think a combination of flavors are going to taste good, then I’ll put ’em together! How do you suppose chefs all over the world have pulled down fortunes by developing “fusion” cuisine?

  11. fieldsparrow says:

    Kudos to you for not only eating but also cooking when you have no appetite. I know how unpleasant that can be.

    That said: Oregano, ew! Fresh oregano is barely tolerable, I suppose, so I’ll grant an exception. Sort of. You know how some people feel about cilantro? I feel like that about oregano. Gack.

  12. Augustin57 says:

    Maybe you need to kick it up a notch and cook something with a tad more character? Being Cajun, I am willing, out of the kindness of my heart, and in the interest of building up the kingdom of God (okay, you can get the shovel out now), to share with you one of my Cajun tips for spicing up your spaghetti sauce, Father. My mother shared this with me before she died in 2005.

    When you make your sauce, add a can of Ro-tel tomatoes (mild, medium, or hot, depending on your taste buds’ sensitivity), to the sauce. Also, add about 2 tbsp. of light roux. If you aren’t sure how to make a roux (pronounced “roo”), here’s how: [ehem… I know what roux is.]

    Mix half a cup of all-purpose (NOT self-rising) flour with half a cup of olive oil together in a skillet. Turn the fire up to high. Constantly stir and stir to prevent burning. If you see any black specks in the mix, throw it out and start over. That means you’ve burned it. It’s not that hard, but requires constant vigilance. When the mixture turns light brown, you’re done. Immediately remove it from the skillet to a cool bowl or container. This saves well in the fridge, and can be used for many good Cajun dishes, including gumbo.

    Bon appetit, mon pere! :)

  13. suzannaleigh says:

    Wow, Fr. Z. When I have no appetite, I usually make myself eat a PB&J or cereal, just to say I ate something. Of course, I’m not what you call a really good cook. I can make very simple things and every once in a while, I’ll throw lots of ingredients into a pot and get something that tastes really good without knowing for sure how I got to the end result. Reading your posts on food makes me feel I should go take a class or something!

  14. James Joseph says:

    Onion and Garlic in the same dish?! Burn him!! Why that’s not Roman cuisine at all! And what’s this bacon you speak of? All this and no vino Frascati! Go get yourself some cured pig cheeks.

    (tongue in cheek criticism… the cat is out of the bag: back to my irish tea and toast)

    Purist cooking sometimes drives me nuts… but it is a lofty goal when attempting to reproduce results.

  15. James Joseph says:

    Isn’t Roo a character from Winnie the Poo?

  16. MargaretC says:

    I am not qualified to comment on the correct concoction of pasta a l’amatriciana (sp?). But surely there is something commendable in being able to put together a tasty meal out of whatever happens to be in the kitchen. Some of my better efforts have been the result of attempts to tidy the fridge before buying groceries.

    Do not — NOT — eat standing over the sink. That way lies desolation and despair…

  17. You’re probably just hot and losing your appetite thereby. It’s summer, after all. My advice is to eat cool foods that go down easy. Kefir. Rice pudding. Melon. Cold soups. You may also need some salt or potassium if you’ve been sweating a lot, or some B and D vitamins if you’re low on energy. Take care of yourself! (And hey, that pasta looked nummy.)

  18. irishgirl says:

    I used to eat breakfast ‘next to the sink’ on workdays when my mother was alive. I would get up early and leave before she got up.
    Nowadays when I get the craving for a ‘night nosh’, I go to the same area for a bowl of cereal and juice from the fridge.
    You got no appetite, Father Z? You sound just like my priest-friend in the north of England (Salford diocese). He wrote in his latest letter that he doesn’t feel like eating. He got checked out by his doctor, who told him he ‘was puzzled’ by it. I hope and pray that he’s not suffering from a life-threatening illness!

  19. fieldsparrow says:

    My top recommendation for those with no appetite due to the heat: Either sliced tomatoes or avocado, with a little salt, on toast. May be eaten standing up at the counter ;) although you will feel better about yourself if you at least sit in a chair with a plate and napkin.

  20. Patti Day says:

    GET A CHARCOAL GRILL – a real one that uses CHARCOAL.

    We just got ours at the big box store. Have them assemble it for you. Assembly can be deadly to a marriage-not for you father, but it does take two people.

    Last night we had a hearty piece of cod with olives, garlic, and tomato; grilled poblano peppers with cheese; grilled zuchinni; and carrots with butter and lots of fresh fennel.

    Tonight is calimari steaks, Tuesday is chicken thighs (love the dark meat), and after that who knows. I’m grilling more than we need of veg to use cold in a salad, or marinated in lime juice.

    Oh yes, pick up one of those glossy cooking magazines, like Food & Wine, with all the summer recipes and beautiful pictures of fresh veg and fruit.

    Forget the kitchen sink. Eat outside on the porch and listen to the birds getting ready for bed. Glorious!

  21. Ralph says:

    After reading the comments of you many single, over the sink, bachelor bear types, I find myself with yet another reason to be so very thankful for my good wife!! We may not eat quite as fancy as you do Father, but I sure like what she cooks. And I never have to contemplate where I will eat my P. B. and J. for dinner ;)

    BTW, thanks again Father for the cooking posts. I really enjoy them. They give me encuragement to “stretch” a little in the kitchen.

  22. wanda says:

    My hat’s off to you, Fr. Z., for not being hungry yet still put forth the effort to make something very tasty looking. I imagine even the aromas might help bring up an appetite. Your herb plants look very happy and healthy. I have an Oregano plant that comes back & multiplies every year. I just whacked off some yesterday. It needed a bit of a haircut, it was growing over into an area that is for flowers only. One thing that is worthy of eating over the sink is a big, sloppy, really ripe, locally grown, tomato sandwich! Makes my throat tingle just thinking of it! Take care, Fr. Z.
    You are in the prayers of many, including the Novena.

  23. Charlotte Allen says:

    What is it about men and eating over the kitchen sink? My husband does that whenever I’m out of town. Eating while standing up seems so un-conducive to enjoying the food. But it’s “efficient,” my husband points out (no kitchen table to wipe off). Men seem to be all about efficiency, and when I’m gone (I insist on a candle-lit dinner every night with cloth napkins), my husband figures out with methodical relentlessness (something to do with the special space-perception ability of the male brain) how to “waste” as few dishes as possible: eat right out of the pot, use the same spoon for eating as for stirring, etc. But Father Z., you sound like a fabulous and creative cook, improvising those wonderful dishes from whatever’s around. Me, I usually need recipes.

  24. MJ says:

    Mmm, looks delicious! I love adding the pasta directly into the sauce. My mom, for some reason, doesn’t – she likes the pasta on her plate and the sauce spooned over it – so when I cook for her, I make her plate then dump the noodles into the sauce and continue cooking it the way I like it. Hehee.

  25. Brad says:

    Father, in your mercenary mood you should have made brutti ma buoni for dessert. :-)

  26. RichardT says:

    Father, sorry to hear you have lost your appetite (and zest for food). I hope it returns.

  27. RichR says:

    I love these posts.

    Don’t be too upset about picking Oregano and Basil early. I do that all the time. I’m excited that my own herb garden is growing. Rosemary, Oregano, Basil, and Lemon Balm. I am hoping my Dillweed will come up so I can freeze it for my winter sauerkrauting (if you’ve never tried krauting, it’s really fun, not too expensive, and tastes a million time better than the cabbage+vinegar you buy at the supermarket {blech}).

    My favorite plant, however, is a pepper plant native to Texas called the Chile Piquin. The peppers are about the size of cooked peas, but they are hotter than Jalapenos. Very versatile little peppers for cooking, but I like them raw with apple cider vinegar poured over them just before dinner with salt, red onions, and chopped garlic. Goes good with a steak and a Merlot.

    BTW, still praying my rosary for you this week. Don’t despair. Too many people praying for you, so you know the Big Guy upstairs is getting bombarded with petitions for you.

  28. yatzer says:

    Thanks, Father, I didn’t know what to fix for dinner and realized I actually had what was needed for this! It was very tasty.

  29. Charles E Flynn says:

    @ Charlotte Allen,

    Full disclosure (as in confession is good for the soul):

    I have eaten far too many meals in the last six years with a wooden tray balanced on my lap, while sitting on the edge of my bed. (I might be a bear!) The fact that the tray is solid teak and was designed by the designer Jens Quistgaard and is undoubtedly in some museum collection is absolutely irrelevant.

    I regret that I do not recall where I read that efficiency is a good thing, but is not a moral virtue. For example, we might choose to do something in an inefficient manner that provides more employment than an efficient manner might.

  30. Patti Day says:

    Here is my short list for things best eaten over the sink:

    Things that are crispy: cookies, crackers, chips, and their ilk
    Things that are drippy: ripe peaches, watermelon, tomatoes and the like
    Things that are illicit: i.e. things that are eaten when you are meant to be sleeping, but are instead raiding the pantry, and need to quickly dispose of the evidence like peanuts in shells.

  31. Ahhh, dear Father Z., I hope that you are well. Sometimes the heat and tiredness takes away all the zest for things culinary, to be sure—but eating over the sink?! Treat yourself better, Father, and be sure to have a proper sit down.
    Looks like a very yummy supper, and I am not a purist, so I would not have realized every element of the heresy, had I not been informed. (Well, even I know that the canned tomatoes are not haute cuisine, but that was about it).

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