In the novel The Snack Thief, Inspector Salvo Montalbano is invited for dinner by the police Superintendent.
“My wife will prepare spaghetti in squid ink. An exquisiteness”.
Then the day before the dinner:
“Superintendent? I am calling to say I am really mortified, but won’t be able to make it for dinner tomorrow.”
“You are mortified because we cannot meet, or because of the squid ink pasta?”
A few years ago, I read The Snack Thief by Andrea Camilleri. I’m not sure when my fascination with squid ink pasta began, but this novel could have been it. It’s a crime novel set in Sicily where the quirky main character, Inspector Salvo Montalbano solves murder mysteries but also tucks into lovely Sicilian feasts. Pasta dishes and seafood seem to be the gastronomic detective’s favourites and the feasts are described in enough detail to make you salivate. If you enjoy crime novels and you enjoy reading about food like I do, Andrea Camilleri is a name to remember.
There is something remarkably cool about shiny black pasta. Maybe it’s my formative teenage goth years (no, that’s not cool), maybe it’s the graphic designer in me (that likes things black on black). Maybe it’s because black is the ultimate backdrop to lay colourful things on top of.
I tried squid ink pasta for the first time in Chiang Mai, Thailand of all places. It was in February this year and it was at Pizzadila, one of the many Italian restaurants in Chiang Mai. There are many Mexican and many Italian restaurants and there are even restaurants that serve both Mexican and Italian food.
This is my first fling with squid ink. It was delicious.
Since we got back to New Zealand, I’ve continued to think about squid ink and what it can do for me. I looked for squid ink dried pasta but the lovely Spanish lady at Sabato suggested that I buy squid ink rather than the pre-made pasta. She convinced me it was easy to use and not messy at all. I was apprehensive, but at $2.70 for a pack of 2, it was worth a try.
Lucky I took her advice. From what I’ve read, the dried pasta version is quite tasteless, even if it’s less messy. I made a white sauce as the base, added chopped garlic and a few shavings of pancetta and gave it a good stir. Then I added the cooked pasta to the sauce and tossed 2 packets of squid ink. I gave it a good mix so that all the pasta was covered.
Served up with roast capsicum and salmon and a couple of glasses of wine, it was pretty good first attempt. The pasta had a tiny hint of the sea. But I’m not sure you would notice it if you weren’t searching for it.