by Ed Sikov
It was well into June before Dan and I came to the distressing realization that we’d be short on housemates this season and would consequently take a big financial hit. Jack Fogg had broken up with Sammy; Sammy was rooming with the volleyball boys and Jack Fogg was doing the Hamptons. (Figures.) Phil Levine found us too boring and declared his intention to find someplace else to spend the summer; it turned out to be Malaysia. There was nothing to do about it at this point. Some of the old gang would return, but all as quarter shares, not half shares.
Dan was taking it more in stride than I was, but then he’s a corporate guy and I’m a writer, so he can afford to be relaxed about money and I can’t. For reasons known only to God, I talked him into taking in a one-time-only boarder named – I am not kidding – Thor. Thor (it’s hard even to type it with a straight face) wanted to stay for a weekend only, so I said sure and Dan said (to me) “Are you out of your mind?” and I said “Yes” and Thor arrived and said, “Hallo. Jeg er en utmerket kokk. Jeg vil lage middag,” which apparently is Norwegian for “Hello, I am going to take over your kitchen immediately,” because that is what he did.
Friday night’s dinner demanded the use of nearly every pot and skillet in the house. Dan got so upset at the mess we were expected to clean up – the house rule is the cook gets to cook and the rest get to clean up afterward – that he stomped upstairs to our room in a huff and wouldn’t come down until Thor cried “Kom, barn! Spis middag!” which is Norwegian for “Admire my pecs while you eat.” Yes, I failed to mention that Thor had been next to naked the entire time he was in our house, having stripped down to a pair of hot pants and nothing else within minutes of arriving. He had a spectacular body, I have to admit, but it was too perfect, and his armpit hair was so blonde it looked like he’d used peroxide.
Dan glumly made his way to the table just as Thor presented the single dish he’d made; why he’d had to use all the pots and pans is anyone’s guess. “Penne alla Vodka” he proudly announced as Dan and I took our seats. That’s when I stole a glance at my bottle of Absolut and gasped – it was empty! The louse had either poured it all into the sauce or used half and drank the rest. What a total waste of fine vodka. Thor will not be invited back.
There’s no mystery whatsoever to Penne alla Vodka. You simply make a tomato sauce from minced garlic and salt and plum tomatoes from a can (which you have roughly chopped in a food processor). Add some crushed pepper and 1/4 cup of vodka and let it cook. Boil a box of penne. Before the penne is done, add about half a cup of cream to the sauce. When the penne is al dente, drain it and dump it in a very large bowl. Add the sauce, stir in some chopped parsley if you have any, stir it well, and put two slabs of butter on top, just for the hell of it. Serve with grated Parmigiano cheese.