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rs-recipepicks-10spaghetti-meatballs608.jpgWhen I received the current issue of Gourmet magazine, I thought that there must be a mistake. The cover photo was the ugliest picture of food I had ever seen. The pasta looks cold and the sauce looks congealed. The flecks of cheese did not melt — are they plastic? Wouldn’t cheese melt on hot meatballs? The picture seems out of focus to me, so I can’t quite tell about the meatballs, other than that the dish reminds of bad cafeteria food. And the pasta? It is twirled in the bowl so that no ends are showing, but that spaghetti looks like it has as much in common with wheat as strips of licorice. The noodles look plastic. Yet I have had friends tell me that they want to make this particular bowl of pasta. Sorry, but real food is much more appetizing.

The other food magazine I receive this month had this picture, which I found much more appealing. I am not a photographer; I perceive food through my tongue, not my eye.fc97cover.jpg I wanted to make the dish from the cover of Fine Cooking; it looks hot, not cold. The background is warm and the meat and vegetables are caramelized. Yum.

Am I missing something from the current trends in food photography? I gave up my subscription to Bon Appetit because I was disgusted by the plastic-looking food in the photos. (The hamburger and ice cream cone cover shots last year were particularly styled, fake, and unappetizing. Real food does not dribble that way.) Maybe their recipes were good, but the photos were not, so I never was inspired to try the recipes.

Note: The February issue of Gourmet has a much better photo on the cover (beautiful breads).

Yes, I do love spaghetti with tomato sauce. Here is my favorite version, which we will make in cooking class tomorrow:

Tomato Sauce for Pasta

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 ounces pancetta, diced
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces diced or ground veal
  • 1 tablespoon porcini powder
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (if necessary)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup veal stock
  • 2 cups tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped (or canned tomatoes)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

In a heavy-bottom, non-reactive saucepan, heat the oil Add the pancetta and onions and cook on medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic. Add the veal and brown. Add the porcini, wine and vinegar and bring to a boil and reduce the liquid to half. Add the tomatoes and seasonings. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add the cream. Serve over noodles.