Amsterdam Foodie

On the complexities of desire, appetite and addiction, and how to satisfy them with pasta

Appetite is like desire; I’d even go as far as to say, appetite IS desire; it’s wanting something that we don’t have. Babies cry when they want food, or their nappy changing, or even sleep; they don’t cry if they’ve just eaten. We stop feeling a particular desire from the exact moment that its object has been fulfilled. Babies’ desire though, I’ve come to the conclusion, is a little less complex than its adult counterpart. Adult desire is not merely satisfied by the fulfilment of a generic wish, such as hunger or thirst; at least, not in the Western culture in which we’re lucky enough to live. When I desire a cappuccino, it has to be strong and smooth with fresh full milk and a good head of foam. It has to be dusted with chocolate powder, not cinnamon or even cocoa. I only need one a day, but if I have five sub-standard cappuccinos, the desire is still there; it hasn’t been satisfied. And I will keep drinking coffee that day until I find one that satisfies the desire. Hence my ‘local’ cafe on my way to work competes for my affections, or should I say my addictions, with my local pub; the knowledge that each will deliver what I desire is what keeps me coming back. Addiction is a need to satisfy a desire.

Thus since my recent run-in with a fish sauce bottle at Helden, my appetite for pasta with prawns and rocket has only increased. Once awakened, a desire can only be sated by its proper fulfilment and, as they say, if you want a job doing well, do it yourself. Last night, my gastro-fantasies further whetted by my scribblings on how it should have been done, I gave in and made the dish myself. I prefer linguine to tagliatelle, but it seems strangely difficult to come by in Holland so I settled for the thinnest tagliatelle I could find. I roasted my garlic, somewhat too quickly I realised somewhat too late, and squeezed it into a simple dressing made with the juice of half a lemon, the same quantity again of olive oil with an extra glug to balance out the sharpness of the citrus, pinches of salt, sugar and pepper and a touch of wholegrain mustard. I bought ‘rivierkreeftjes’ which I think are the equivalent of crayfish but large prawns would also have worked. My pasta al dente, I simply drained it and added the shellfish, rocket and dressing, stirring it in the hot pan until the rocket had wilted slightly and the dressing was just beginning to steam. I’m ashamed to admit, I wolfed it down in front of the TV, and mopped up the juices with some onion bread that my flatmate had baked the day before. It may not have been brought to me by a size-zero blonde with an attitude in place of a smile, and I may have had to do the washing up afterwards, but as far as appetite goes, a good bowl of pasta with a glass of sauvignon blanc cannot be beaten for hitting the F-spot. That particular culinary desire, at least, has been sated for now…

And not a fish sauce bottle in sight. Now how hard was that?

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