There is a place on Earth where evil gathers, folks. Where food goes to die, rot, and proceed to be dug up out of the ground and discarded onto a plate along with an eldritch, ancient rite known only as “Unlimited Breadsticks”.
That place is called the Olive Garden, and it contains zero gardens and surprisingly few olives. It’s also the worst restaurant ever conceived.
If you’re blissfully unaware of the Olive Garden, allow me to paint you a picture. First, enter through the front doors, where you’re immediately assaulted by a worn-down cassette recording of “That’s Amore” shitting itself into your ears on endless repeat. After waiting for an hour and a half while a series of morbidly obese Ameri-families mouth-vacuum up their impossibly large portions of a dish that’s almost certainly never been seen nor heard of in Italy, your tiny little plastic buzzer thing goes off and tells you it’s your turn.
Sound appealing yet?
Of course, if you don’t want to commit yourself to…that, you can always opt for some actual Italian food. Delicious, simple flavor, or crippling heart disease borne on the wings of heavy cream and factory-processed parmesan cheese substitute.
The choice is yours.
Here’s what you need:
– 1/3 cup olive oil
– 12 anchovies (about one tin)
– 6 garlic cloves
– Red pepper flakes
– 1 cup panko bread crumbs
– 1 pound squid ink pasta, linguine or spaghetti
– Truffle salt (it’s ok if you don’t have it, but…you should get it)
– 3 egg yolks
– 10 scallops
– 1 tablespoon lemon zest
– 1 squeeze (I know it’s not an official measurement, but you know what I mean damnit) of lemon juice
Here’s how you do it:
First, mince the garlic and anchovies. You don’t have to actually mince the anchovies, just slice them up as best you can. They’re squishy.
Fill a large pot with water and bring it to a boil, then add a little salt. Add the pasta, stir, and cook for as long as the fancy little package tells you to, while carefully reminding yourself that it’s ok to be taking orders from a recycled plastic bag with a vaguely racist caricature of an Italian chef on it. Oh, and make sure to save some of the pasta water before you drain it, about a half cup.
While that’s cooking, heat up the olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat until it starts shimmering.
Add the anchovies, garlic, and a couple shakes of red pepper, and cook for a minute.
Add the bread crumbs, stir ‘em around a bit, and let them cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until golden brown. Make sure to stir occasionally while they’re cooking so they don’t burn, since, y’know…bread tends to do that. Especially tiny bread.
Once the bread crumbs are done cooking, set them aside in a bowl for later.
Mix together the egg yolks and three tablespoons of the pasta water in a large bowl. Your pasta should be done by now, so add that in and stir around the pasta until it’s nice and coated in the eggy stuff. The pasta will cook the egg yolk since it should just be done cooking, so don’t start freaking out that your precious kids’ll get salmonella. Your little ones will survive to fuck up Ode to Joy in next week’s piano recital, don’t you worry.
Stir in the bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and a bit of truffle salt.
Add a tablespoon each of olive oil and butter to the pan, and heat over medium-high until the butter’s melted.
Put the lemon zest and scallops in the pan, and turn the scallops once they turn brown, about two minutes a side.
Once the scallops are done, give them a squeeze of lemon juice and add them into the pasta bowl.
Stir once more, put it on a plate, and shove it in your mouth. Or do that twirly thing with the fork, I don’t care.
I do care what you put into your ears though, so check out this week’s track from Black Sabbath. It’s The Warning:
Aside from all the funny stuff and the ranting, it actually does kill me to see a restaurant chain eviscerate an entire culture’s worth of food. Granted, there’s no chance anyone in Italy actually gives a shit what Bob and Mary Whitebread in Black Hole, Iowa go to eat on a Friday night, but the point still stands. It’s a downright tragedy that that’s what they think of when someone says ‘Italian food’, and while I’m not the most knowledgeable on the real stuff, I sure as hell know it ain’t “Endless Breadsticks”.
Get educated, people. That’s my advice.
I’ll see you next time.