NO MORE, NO LESS; THAT WAS THE MAGIC

Adam recently gave me a beautiful first edition of one of my favorite books from high school, John Updike’s Witches of Eastwick. As I happily reread it, I’m noticing for the first time how heavily food plays into the story. All of the witches have their own strange eating and cooking habits; one afternoon, one of the witches makes some pasta sauce:

It was, she dimly perceived, some kind of ridiculous tribute to her present lover, a plumber of Italian ancestry. Her recipe called for no onions, two cloves of garlic minced and sauteed for three minutes (no more, no less; that was the magic) in heated oil, plenty of sugar to counteract acidity, a single grated carrot, more pepper than salt; but the teaspoon of crumbled basil is what catered to virility, and the dash of belladonna provided the release without which virility is merely a murderous congestion. All this must be added to her own tomatoes, picked and stored on every window sill these weeks past and now sliced and fed to the blender.

So lyrical and simple — it reads like a recipe that I want to follow. Now that is a spaghetti sauce I would happily eat every day.

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