A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

San Diego is our favorite escape from the broasting heat of Arizona summers. Lazy days by the beach and easy dinners are in order, so when we are not grilling we whip up a simple pasta dish. One such night was when the Jrs. and I were wandering around Little Italy in downtown after dropping Dr. Love at the airport, and we happened upon our favorite italian deli. Ok, I admit, we go in there for the amazing italian pignoli cookies which bring dreamy smiles to our faces when we bite into them. So while we made our way to the counter where these gems loom behind in plastic lined boxes, doled out by the italian man behind the register, I spotted a pasta shape I had not seen before now. Occhi Lupo Rigatoni. I scooped them up, along with some chewy fresh italian bread in a paper bag and knew it was pasta night.

Occhi di Lupo literally means Eyes of the Wolf, which has its roots in the italian culture. The wolf seems to be the center of some interesting folklore. In Italy it is believed that there is a noxious influence in the eye of a wolf; it is supposed that it will instantly take away the voice of a man, if it is the first to see him. In Italian they also say “in bocca al lupo” (in the mouth of the wolf) instead of “break a leg” in the theater and it is a tradition for opera singers to give a toast to the wolf before a performance. In Italian history, the Devil is often compared to the Wolf. In the Opera world, the devil…ie the wolf, is the forgetting of the words or otherwise flubbing the aria. So to not spit in the Wolf’s eye, is akin to being aware of problems that may arise and steering clear of them. More wolf associations occur in the catholic story of St Francis of Assisi who tamed a violent wolf who wreaked havoc on the city of Gubbio in Italy.

And if that’s not enough, there’s even a song named Occhi di Luppo sung by Italian rock recording artist Sergio Borsato. All I could gather from listening to it was something about the moon and needing the eye of the wolf, so much for my translation skills.

Enough history, let’s eat. As I mentioned, I’m on vacation so as the title of this entry suggests, I’m going to “pull the wool over your eyes” , well over the wolf’s eyes and use (oh the shame) jarred pasta sauce. I browned a pound of ground sirloin sprinkled with oregano, basil and some s and p, drained it and poured on the little red riding hood’s grandmother fake out sauce. Actually it was Barilla’s spicy marinara.

My oh my, what a big label you have...

I mean if you’re going to cut corners, may as well make ‘em yummy and use some decent stuff.

see what simple can do?

Then like the three little pigs when they tricked the wolf into the pot of boiling water, I threw in the Ochhi di Lupo pasta and followed the roughly translated instructions on the imported pasta bag. It said, word for word, I kid you not, “at the right cooking point it must be removed from the heat, taking care to pour a glass of cold water on it and it must not be drained completely.” Turned out the right cooking point was about 10 minutes, I skipped the cold water and did leave a little pasta water. Never know when the wolf eyes are watching me and heaven knows I need my voice.

The Jr’s piled their bowls full of pasta and ladled on the sauce for our lazy supper. It was perfection. No need for anything else but a glass of wine for Mommy and a hunk of that Italian bread. Oh heavens, those little wolf eyes soaked up the ragu so beautifully in their ridges and the texture of this thick pasta was perfect for the hearty meat sauce. It was love at first bite…wait that’s vampires not wolves, isn’t it? I’m sure the Stephanie Meyers fans out there will get the connection.

On that happy note, we’re off to the beach!

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