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Last Friday found me eating lunch with old college friends of mine: Allyson, Lorie, and Belle. Allyson was one of my team-mates in Microbiology class and we had a laugh about how much time I (as self-appointed leader) would sulk as he and my friend Bulit would squirt bottles of alcohol at each other and poor Vice. My excessive sense of responsibility could have easily irked Allyson (not that he had a right!!) but we always got along fine regardless. Watching The Hangover a few days later got me thinking about the friendships I form with other guys.
It seems like a bit of an eyeroll-inducer. Men by nature do not analyze friendships with other men. Unfortunately I'm wired a little differently and I do think about things other people won't, and having recently read that "men are idiots" (although not phrased so politely ;) made me think about how we're so underrated. Right Caitlin, Y, Pea? (Feel free to chime in if you, either by choice or coercion, hang around a bunch of other guys.)
Allyson and I hung out in one other way -- during long gaps in the schedule or a dull day, a group of maybe 7 or so of us would drive to the computer "arcade" and play "Counter-Strike." Yes, it's that silly game where you pretend to be a group of (ahem) counter-terrorists (or, gulp, the opposite) and take out the opposing team using all sorts of weapons in a battle landscape. After playing this game for weeks and weeks with them, I was beyond rubbish at it. As in, even armed with a rifle, my opponents would just walk up behind me and stab me with a knife repeatedly until I was dead. But even though I was the weakest link, they always made it a point to include me. One of us made a drawing of the entire team as caricatures, and I was there in my innocent, wide-eyed glory -- being very proper whilst everyone else had bloodlust-y captions (my speech bubble said, "Ferdie, I think your brother has just passed here"). If I wasn't so amused (and afraid of the endless ribbing the sentiment would create), I would have been touched. (But I like the ribbing, don't I? Otherwise I wouldn't have written this.)
Men just don't need any reasons to be your friend. In fact, we would probably be annoyed if you forced us to think of one. We just... are. While on one hand it feels really sweet for a woman to express why you're so awesome, there would always be that insecurity, that one day the reason will just go away and so will the relationship. I also to some extent fear cattiness and manipulation (too much Top Model?). Up to now I still don't really know what my female friends say about me behind my back. But men? Unless you are in need or facing tragedy, we don't really care about what goes on in your life. I suppose that is a cause for lamentation for some. On one hand, it's really, really hard to talk about your problems with men, but on the other hand, if you want to escape the drama, there's no better people to turn to.
I just realized that I haven't really made an argument against men being idiots, but I think in our own way, we're pretty awesome.
This recipe for the sexist "Proper Blokes' Sausage Fusilli" comes from Jamie Oliver's book, Cook with Jamie, which I reviewed for The Gastronomer's Bookshelf (read my Cook with Jamie review here). He says "girls tend to like it as well." Golly whiz, Jamie, then just call it an Awesome Sausage Fusilli. Because that's what it is. Except the name isn't quite as catchy. I like the heat and the twist of flavor the lemon gives the dish. Couldn't stop eating it.
I also had an abundance of fennel seeds, so I decided to make my own Italian sausage. Why not, I didn't need the casing anyway.
Blokes' Sausage Fusilli adapted from Cook with Jamie
First make the sausage:
- 630g (22oz) ground pork
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon fennel seed, freshly ground
- 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, freshly ground
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- olive oil
- 2 heaped teaspoons fennel seeds, coarsely crushed in a mortar
- 2 teaspoons hot red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 240g (1 cup) white wine
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- 630g (22oz) fusilli or penne
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- a couple of knobs of butter
- a handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
- small bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and chopped
In a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat, add a splash of olive oil and add all the sausage meat in, breaking it up and crushing with a spoon. Let it fry for a few minutes, until colored. Add the fennel seeds and red pepper flakes and cook over medium heat about 10 minutes or until crisp and golden brown. Add the oregano and the white wine and let it reduce to half. Add the lemon zest and juice. Reduce the heat to low.
Cook the pasta according to package instructions (al dente). Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking water, then dump the pasta into the sausage meat, tossing. Add butter, Parmesan, and parsley, and a few spoonfuls of the reserved cooking water. Taste and season with the salt and pepper if needed. Serve immediately with some more Parmesan.