I can remember the first pesto sauce I made the proper way, crushing the garlic with salt, then the basil leaves and then the pine nuts. It was in the small dark kitchen of Katie and Simon’s flat in Trevignano on the shores of Lake Bracciano outside Rome. The kitchen was compact and I Katie sat me down with a pestle and mortar and a great pile basil leaves and told me to get on with it. There seemed to be too much basil but after ten minutes or so it had ground down into a pungent sauce.
No picture can ever to justice to small bowl of pesto. It might be able to capture something of the vivid green. But colour is not really the point. It is the raw abrasiveness of the garlic soften by the creamed pine nuts, olive oil and parmesan cheese and over all that the scent and taste of basil, slightly astringent with aniseed.
We had it this evening with a large bowl of spaghetti mixed with pieces of roasted potato 1cm square and just cooked thinly sliced cabbage. The kids fought over the small pieces of potato and asked for more pesto to go over the pasta.
We should have been eating it outside in sun and heat and the shop bought basil will not have been as good as the stuff we ate in Trevignano but it all got eaten.
Later that evening in the dark kitchen in Trevignano we argued about the rise of New Labour and who we would be voting for in the election that was due to come in 1997.