Good morning. Bari, Italy, the capital of Puglia, is on the Adriatic coast. My friend and colleague Steven Raichlen was there not long ago to look into one of the city’s most notable pasta dishes: spaghetti all’assassina (above). That translates as the spaghetti of an assassin, killer spaghetti: spicy, singed strands of deeply burnished pasta cooked until its sauce has almost evaporated, until it has almost started to char.
Restaurant sharpies trace the dish’s history back to 1967, when the chef Enzo Francavilla of Osteria al Sorso Preferito maybe accidentally burned a serving of spaghetti in red sauce, then served it anyway with extra red pepper flakes. It was a hit. The restaurant still serves spaghetti all’assassina, and the dish has become a standby on menus across the city.
Steven had his fill at Urban L’Assassineria Urbana, where the chef Celso Laforgia makes spaghetti all’assassina that is, Steven says, “as dark as polished ebony,” fragrant with powdered garlic and fiery with red pepper flakes. Anna Francese Gass’s recipe for New York Times Cooking, though, hews closer to Francavilla’s original, by making it with fresh garlic and pulling the pasta back from aggressively burned to something closer to scorched. I hope you’ll give it a try this weekend.
But not only that! Yossy Arefi has a slick new recipe for a giant sheet-pan pumpkin pancake that feeds a crowd — a light, fluffy and gently spiced slab that divides easily into 12 squares of deliciousness to serve beneath salted butter and warm maple syrup. (When it comes to sheet pans, my friend Melissa Clark says you should always have at least two on hand. Accompanying your pumpkin pancakes with a tray of oven bacon is one example why.)
For dinner on Saturday night, if you’re not burning spaghetti, you might consider this recipe for braised chicken legs that I learned from the chef Cal Peternell. I like that with generously buttered parsleyed noodles, myself, or simply roasted potatoes.
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Now, it has nothing whatsoever to do with trout rillettes or tofu escabeche, but I streamed Guy Ritchie’s “The Covenant” recently, mostly because I would watch the actor Dar Salim, who plays an Afghan interpreter in the film, read the terms and conditions agreement for any app you choose.
Mary Costello has a new short story in The New Yorker, “The Choc-Ice Woman.”
Here’s Eddie Huffman in Our State magazine, on North Carolina barn dances and the tradition of clogging.
Finally, it’s Paul Simon’s birthday. He’s 82. Why deny the obvious child? Enjoy that and I’ll see you on Sunday.