This dish was shown to me five years ago at La Cacciata. I rushed back to Wandsworth and bored Richard Whittington, my colleague who was writing Keep It Simple with me at the time. ‘We must put this in the book,’ I urged, ‘it’s the best thing I’ve ever tasted, it’s never been seen before out of Italy.’ Richard nodded indulgently and advised me to watch some supermarket commercials then current. I did, and saw my wonderful new discovery being broadcast to millions. Crestfallen doesn’t begin to describe it.
There is however a sub-text to the supermarket’s advertising campaign. Take industrially made poor quality conchiglie, 6 unripe flavourless tomatoes, 100 g of nasty tasteless pasteurised plastic-clad ricotta, some overpriced feeble hot-house basil and a bog standard olive oil. Cook the pasta until it is as near al dente as inferior pasta will allow you to get, dice the tomatoes without peeling. Dress the pasta with table salt and black sneezing powder, the oil and the tomatoes and glop ricotta. Result, a scarcely edible dish.
To make this dish properly, you need to find good ingredients. Follow the simple instructions and enjoy; diverge, and disaster will follow.