June 16, 2007
So what happened to the (predicted) hottest summer since records began? Here I sit at the kitchen table on a wet Saturday afternoon, looking out into a damp, bedraggled, snooker-table-sized London back garden. A short, crackling thunderstorm has just passed over, and everything is still.
Maths chick is spending her weekends marking GCSE exams online, and so I’m left to my own devices again, which normally involves me staring at the wall, rocking backwards and forwards in a semi-catatonic state. But at the moment I’m reflecting back on an eventful week.
The Facebook phenomenon has hit my social group with a vengeance. Me and MC were introduced to this social networking site last weekend at a party, and within the space of three or four days almost everyone I know has registered on the site and become instantly, shamefully, addicted.
Yesterday as I walked through the offices I’m currently freelancing in I noticed every second or third person surreptitiously checking their profile to see how many new Facebook friends they’d acquired in the last 10 minutes. As a site, it’s better looking and more usable than mySpace, less blatantly self-serving than LinkdIn, less nostalgic than Friends Reunited. The site promises to arrange your entire social life for you, while keeping the psychotic or predatory at arm’s length.
The impact of these social networking sites on your life can be hard to predict. Already I’ve met up with a long-lost school friend who I’d hardly seen since he dropped out of the 6th form and dissappeared into the Madchester club scene during the second summer of love in 1989. He’s now re-surfaced as an IT project manager in the City by day, a keyboard player with the legendary Manchester band ACR by night, and an all round good bloke. He had some great stories to tell, impressing me most by the fact he’d been personally given the nickname ‘Acid House Pixie’ by one of my personal heroes, the great Mark e Smith.
In between squabbling over who had the most Facebook friends, the MC and me managed to squeeze in a pasta-making session on Tuesday night. I’d had a go at making linguine on Monday night and it had ended up a large, globby mess, drowned in a flash flood of aubergine and ricotta sauce. This time we tried to keep it simple, in conception if not execution – we decided to make ricotta ravioli.
The MC worried this was too ambitious for a Tuesday night, and that we wouldn’t be sitting down to eat until the early hours of Thursday morning. In the end, with the two of us working in blissful harmony, we managed to crank out a couple of servings of misshapen but deliciously melting ravioli in about 40 minutes.
The filling was very simple – Ricotta, drained of excess moisture, seasoned well with nutmeg, salt, pepper and parmesan. Although they’d have been great served just with butter and parmesan, we decided to serve them with thinly sliced cabbage fried with fatty cubes of bacon, which turned out to be a good contrast between the subtle, velvety ravioli and the salty, crisp accompaniment.
I wouldn’t even start trying to describe how you make ravioli. The instructions in the Marcella Hazan book we used run to at least four pages. It’s a black art, but well worth the effort, if you can tear yourself away from Facebook for long enough. Otherwise, just open a tin of the old 70’s school canteen ravioli in the sickly sweet red sauce and see if you can track down that well-endowed lass you used to lust after in double French.