February 19, 2013

Love To Love You, Baby & Sexy Spaghetti Bolognese

I love Valentine's Day. Think about it; an entire day dedicated to celebrating affection and the accuracy of Cupid's arrows. Awesome, right? By the way, all you Debbie Downers out there who want to cut me short with some cranky spiel about 'consumerism'; back off. This is about candles, candy, and cuddles. And if you can't come to terms with that, you have a little piece of coal for a heart. 

I do have a confession to make, though. Penning this post has been a pretty perturbing process and I deliberately delayed dishing out details because I had no desire to dampen anyone's day. Besides, as tempted as I was to talk about all the tingly tenderness that is love, I was stymied by a small speed-bump. 

No, no, I don't lack love in my life and I'm not lonely. But I am a little lost.

Why? Well, let's start from the beginning.

See, before I write a rant, I revel in a little research. What does that entail? Frankly, nothing fancy. Typically, I browse through Brainy Quote, wander through Wikipedia, and get down to some Google-ing. I also engage inane activities, lolling around listening to music and tinkering with tiny thoughts, trying to transform them into awe-inspiring inspiration...or at least an inkling of it.

Warning: Reading up on romance may result in feelings of incredible inadequacy. 

I can't compete with impeccable dialogues and daring declarations. I don't have the money to build a monument for my man. Or the patience to wait for prince or peasant, alike. 

So basically, all I drew from those days of dawdling were a big blank and a bruised ego.

On the upside, I found an unbelievable avenue for over-simplifying my adoration for mi amour. To sum up my love life, I require exactly two movie soundtracks; Dirty Dancing and The Bodyguard (by the way, I mean the one with Kevin Costner). Sure, both are cheesy, but they're also Grammy winners and in my book, that's pretty credible crooning. Besides, with Whitney's voice and Swayze's swagger - just give me a second to swoon. 

Here’s how it goes. It all began with Hungry Eyes. You know how it goes; he looked at you, you looked at him…cue the fireworks. I then mustered the muscle to ask him to Be My Baby. “Of course,” he said, and so began the Time Of My Life. Now, we’re happily hitched, and when I look at him I think, I Have Nothing Without You. And when he hugs and holds me close, all I want to tell him is, I Will Always Love You.

Told you, two soundtracks are all it takes. Cool, right?

The truth is, talking about things that tug at the heart is harder than I thought. 

Maybe that’s because even after several days of my internet invasion, I realized I know a grand total of two things about love.

For one, it's not something you choose; it just happens. And for two, even though I'm fairly well-versed in what falling in love feels like, if you asked me to flesh it out for you, I'd probably flounder. All I can fathom is 'warm, whimsical, fuzzy feelings'.

The point is, love can be complicated. And maneuvering the maze can be mind-boggling.

How can it not be?

Love is the stuff of legends; elusive, exciting, and around since time immemorial. Speaking of its ancient origins, thank God it's an emotion with the endless ability to adapt and evolve. I mean, I'd much rather be courted through a computer than get clubbed over the head by a caveman. 

But  do you know what some of the most beautiful stories about bagging your beloved - Romeo and Juliet,  Layla and Majnun, Paris and Helena, Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler, Salim and Anarkali, Elizabeth Bennett and Darcy, Marc Antony and Cleopatra, Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal - have in common? A ton of tragedy. I mean, of course, they laud love, but they’re loaded with a lot of loss, longing, and in some cases, late reactions. Elizabeth and Scarlett, I’d like to speak to you privately.

Anyways, these are sagas of serious struggle and sacrifice, all in the name of your sweetheart. You can go ahead and swoon over that statement, but for me the message is a little morbid; being madly in love may maim you. 

Now, even though I'm all for raging romance, all the greats of gaga-land seem to have been gutted by its glory. And I don’t know about you, but I'm not too happy about the heartache involved with falling head over heels. 

So for sanity and security’s sake, I'm averse to limiting my love to one person. I mean, you shouldn't put all your eggs in one basket, right? Don't get me wrong, the husband will always be my one and only, but I'm neither shy nor stingy with showering fondness on friends, family, and sometimes even strangers. Like Audrey Hepburn said, "I was born with an enormous need for affection, and a terrible need to give it." 

As usual, I like to keep stuff simple. Cut out complications. Move away from the maniacal. Savor the sweetness of untainted affection. What can I say, I’m secretly a softie.

So, how do you make sure your sentiments stand the test of time? How do you keep the fire burning beneath the flame?

With my simple three-step strategy, of course! In my book, these are the only lessons you need to make love last.

How do I know? Because I’m my own guinea pig and everything I’m going to gush about is tried and tested. And because I’m celebrating seven years of sappiness with my sweet, so that’s got to say something, right?
And I figured since you all know how I found ‘The One’, it’d be fun fast forward and tell you how I’ve managed to hold on to him. So, let the assault of advice for awesome affection begin!

Listen and learn, ladies and gentlepeople.

A little disclaimer: As usual my banter is full of biases and based on a lot of assumptions.

For example, I’m going to assume you’re with someone you have stuff in common with. If you’re clinging to a clone, I can’t guarantee great results. Now come on, say it with me, opposites attract. Good. Moving on, I’ll also presume that passion is pretty high on your list of priorities. I frown furiously upon wavering vows and words. And finally, I expect a 12-page, single-spaced report from each one of you, glowing with glorious praise for my wit, wisdom, and for showing you the way. You’re welcome.

The approach I’ve adopted is all thanks to the husband. The man is cool and calm as a clam, while I’m like a monkey that’s been set on fire, but his endless patience means he can count on my everlasting adoration.

I guess it’s time to tell you what T’s taught me.

Ready? Steady? And off we go!

Listen: This is one that totally trips me up. See, in order to listen, I need to switch off my sound-box and succumb to silence. As you know, in my world, that’s slightly sacrilegious. Anyways, even though I think being catatonic is a cruel curse, I’m training myself to tune those ears and tape my trap shut. Unfortunately, my fortitude is fragile. And when I turn into a leech and want him to listen to me, I know that one quick question can hush him up in a hurry. I ask him is what he’s thinking. And that is precisely the point when my true love turns on the thinking. Before that the brain was blank and blacked-out. That’s my cue to cut in. While he revels in his radio-silence, I get to relentlessly rant and rave. And there you have it; my magnificent maneuver to hit the mute button my man.

Laugh: Literally. Like hyenas. Of course, I have several side-splitting strategies. You might be the one doing most of the maniacal laughing, but here goes anyways. Numero Uno: Hide. Behind doors, furniture, under the bed, or if you really want to go ballistic, in the back seat of his car. And then leap out when he least expects it. The point is to petrify his pants off. Honestly, hilarious! Another great one; break out into spontaneous dance. I call my most marvelous moves ‘Desi boy goes to Atif Aslam concert’. All you need to pull it off are loose, flailing limbs with a ridiculous lack of rhythm. To really get the giggles going, also belt out tunes like you’re tone-deaf. Or just do what my husband does; talk in Muppet voices for the day. If none of this works, one of you needs to jump off a bridge for bad taste.

Let Go: Okay, this is one we need to approach like adults. When I was younger, I could nurture a grudge like nobody’s business. I’d let it boil and bubble inside until I was ready to blast off.  What can I say? The late-twenties brought out the lunatic in me. Or maybe I’m just very volatile. Either way, the reality is, relationships begin to wane and wither if you insist on the endless erupting volcano act. Luckily, in the last 5 years or so, I’ve become lazy about lashing out. Thanks to the man, I have a new mantra; Zen. I zone out instead of zeroing in. Picturing kittens farting rainbows is so much more fun than petty, crazed fighting, right? By the way, it doesn’t require yoga or years of meditation. It does, however, require a really relaxed partner who rarely reacts to your raving nut-job reflexes. Frankly, initially, my husband’s failure to flinch would induce insanity inside me. Now, I just want to say, props to him for weathering Wife-zilla! So keep calm and….Besides, when he says I love you it totally throws me off balance and the belligerence is blown. And that, my friends, is how you tame the beast!

Ultimately, the truth is, love isn’t easy, but it’s definitely worthwhile and I can’t imagine a life without it. Yes, it’s scary surrendering your soul to someone, but letting your guard down and giving in can lead to great things. It has for me, at least. Sure, I was fortunate enough to get hitched to a phenomenal guy, but the lessons he’s taught me about love are what make our love last.

This week, I’m making my all-time favorite meal, hands down, no contest; spaghetti bolognese and a fresh green salad with balsamic and olive oil. I also insist on bread because I need something to sop up the sauce left in the bowl once I’m done. It’s my sophisticated version of licking the bowl. This recipe is from a super sexy chef I secretly stalk.

See, even though I’m a mad-hatter for the husband, I also carefully curate a collection of celebrity crushes. David Rocco is one of those obsessive infatuations. I have only three words for you. Hot. Italian. Chef. Need I say more?

Too bad Dave is taken. But even though I have no chance of stealing his heart, I can at least steal his recipes, right? Actually, that’s copyright infringement, as in plain unethical, not to mention, illegal. So, this is my adaptation of his absolutely divine spaghetti Bolognese and I assure you, it’s as smoking and sexy as Divine Dave.

Italian food is all about love, generosity, and sharing. I don’t know how many of you have seen Disney’s Lady and the Tramp, but there’s a beautiful scene where two adorable pooches in love share a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs. Seriously, nothing says love like sharing a strand of spaghetti and ending up in a sweet smooch. *heart melting*

By the way, don’t let the Salsa Di 5 Minuti scare you. It’s just a basic tomato sauce, which literally does take only 5 minutes to throw together, and jazzes up the base of your Bolognese by about a bazillion.

Also, an hour might seem like a long wait for something as simple as some sauce for your spaghetti, but letting the tomatoes and minced meat slowly simmer together makes a beautiful marriage of flavors. Taking that extra time means the natural sugars in the tomatoes caramelize, bringing out their signature savory-sweetness. What you end up with is a rich, meaty, beautifully fragrant Bolognese sauce. Absolutely, fool-proof.

By the way, I was lucky enough to get my greens fresh and handpicked from my lovely friend, Sarah Nadir, who's growing the most gorgeous vegetable patch in town! Beautiful rocket, iceberg, parsely, beef lettuce, and thyme are just some of the herbs and greens she grown. Sarah is  too modest to sell her stuff, but if I can get enough go-greens types on board, I think I'm going to pressure her with a petition. Thank you, my love, for a beautiful salad!

Adapted from http://www.davidrocco.com, by David Rocco
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cans (400 grams each) chopped, peeled whole tomatoes, pureed
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon dried chili flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon dried basil
  • Salt, to taste
In a medium saucepan, over a medium-low flame, heat the olive oil.
- Add the onions, garlic, and chili flakes and fry until the onions are soft and translucent and the garlic is fragrant.
- Add the pureed tomatoes and sugar and simmer over a medium heat for about 10 minutes.
-  Add the dried basil. Cook for another 2 minutes and remove from the heat.

Ingredients Spaghetti Bolognese
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 25 grams butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • ½ kg minced mutton or beef
  • 1 cup chicken stock (1 chicken cube + 1 cup water)
  • 2 cups Salsa Di 5 Minute (Basic tomato sauce)
  • ¼ teaspoon dried chili flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon dried basil
  • Salt, to taste
  • 400 grams spaghetti, boiled
- In a large saucepan, over a medium heat, heat the olive oil and butter.
-  Add the onions, carrots, garlic, and chili pepper. Cook on a medium heat until soft.
-  Add the minced mutton or beef and fry off until golden brown.
-  Add the stock and let the excess liquid reduce down.
 Add the salsa did 5 minute (basic tomato sauce) simmer on a low heat for about 1 hour.
-  Add the dried basil and cook for another 5 minutes.
-  Serve hot with boiled spaghetti.

Until next time, remember, “The best thing to hold on to in life is each other.” Ciao, Ciao!


  1. mehreen obaid5/9/13, 4:20 PM

    try adding 3-4 tsp of tomato paste in the first stage with the olive oil, garlic and onions - before adding the canned tomatoes - I find this adds some zing to the sauce!

    1. Tomato paste is my all-time favorite fall-back when I'm too lazy to roast tomatoes (I'm always too lazy). Higly recommend Mehreen's suggestion!


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