Camorra and calzoneby Wendell Steavenson / May 24, 2012 / Leave a comment
Published in June 2012 issue of Prospect Magazine
Spaghetti alle vongole: “tiny clams strewn across buttery pasta like delicate butterflies”
Unravelling from a double-jointed plane journey and a taxi jolting over the cobblestones, we were in Naples, walking through the black volcanic paved alleys, ravenous in search of lunch. A cluster of white linen table cloths under an arch in an alley full of secondhand booksellers. We stopped, gratefully slumped. A carafe of vino bianco, fresh, green and slightly effervescent, a plate of plump and melting marinated anchovies, frizzed with rocket leaves; slices of prosciutto, salt against the soft milky tang of a ball of mozzarella di bufala and then the twin pillars of Neapolitan cuisine: spaghetti al pomodoro fresco and a pizza margherita. The spaghetti was perfectly al dente, the tomatoes coddled between cooked and crudo, pulpy and concentrated. The pizza was crusty and chewy, with a slurpy lava lake of creamy white mozzarella streaked with sweet and acid tomato. We fell silent with gorging happiness. Afterwards, the pizzaiolo, the pizza man, came out for a cigarette. He was white haired and lean, his arms hung like heavy chains and he had enormous hands. Each finger was muscled and roped as if his whole body’s strength and force and life had gone into those hands, which worked the dough and thumped and pulled.