When my mother was in her late teens, she was sort of informally adopted by a man who had been a machine gunner in the Allied liberation of Italy during the war. He came back with a cute wife and the ability to make amazing spaghetti with anchovy sauce. It became my mother’s favorite dish, and it is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. My mother is long gone, and no one left on earth can stand the smell of garlic sauteed in anchovy guck but my father and I, so we make it whenever we get together. We feel that it goes best with music from the Val Resia on the Italian-Slovenian border (scroll below to see what that hears like); imagine two aging men dancing with a puzzled, half-lame Golden Retriever while two cans of anchovy fillets dissolve in olive oil and a pot of spaghetti overflows and you’ve pretty much got the picture of a Saturday night in our part of the Pacific Northwest.
The French Wikipedia article on the Val Resia brings up some useful words—scroll down past the video to see them.
- la commune: town, municipality, or village. Resia est une commune de la province d’Udine dans la région Frioul-Vénétie julienne en Italie. The commune is an important organizational unit in France. A commune can have a number of sizes. As Jean-Benoît Nadeau and Julia Barlow explain it in their excellent (if oddly named) book 60 million Frenchmen can’t be wrong, “The commune refers to any municipality: a village, town, or city. Paris is a commune, and so is Fresnes. Many communes are ancient parishes. They became communes during the French Revolution to break the influence of the clergy. One of the most striking features of France’s political landscape is the high number of communes: 36,851, with an average of 1,650 inhabitants each. France has more communes than Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Italy combined. The biggest is Paris, with two million inhabitants, followed by Lyon and Marseilles, with about a million each. Toulouse, Dijon, Bordeaux, and Strasbourg make up the third tier, with between one-quarter and half a million inhabitants. Only 52 French communes have more than 100,000 inhabitants. So France is basically a country of small towns.”
Think carefully before you ask for the recipe for spaghetti with anchovy sauce–once smelled, it cannot be forgotten!