June 1998

Gambier, Ohio June 23, 1998 This June has been the wettest on record, they say (but so they seem to every year). Let's face it: at that time when Wimbledon fortnight and the Lords Text Match roll around, there is always a certain amount of precipitation in the air, and we'd be surprised if not disappointed if it were anyway else. And in any case, we in England are apt to get somewhat obsessed and inward looking about our weather, forgetting for the moment sometimes that the sun is not always shining elsewhere.

I just returned, for example, from a week spent first in Cambridge, Mass with family, followed by a few days in the Midwest. It was my first trip back to Ohio since I graduated from Kenyon College way back in, well, it is so long ago that I forget the year. I was taking part in the Kenyon Review Summer Writing program, giving a workshop to participants on electronic publishing, as well as a reading and talk. Though I had expected it to be hot, I was not prepared for the raw and extreme violence of the weather: over 100 degrees by day, the sapping heat and humidity building up with a vengeance that would break by early evening with high winds, violent thunder and lightning, flooding and even tornados. Gambier became a town under seige: we spent one afternoon helping to sandbag a house, while the Kokosing River had burst its banks, nearby bridges were washed out, and some 12 people in Knox County tragically died over this brief period. It was a timely reminder that if in England it is rarely bakingly hot in summer, neither is it ever savagely cold in winter, and the extremes of climate that we suffer are considerably less severe than most other parts of the world. Indeed, it was something of a relief to return to the cool, grey, fresh weather of Devon once more.

While visiting Michele in Cambridge, we sat out in her garden on a steamy, city-heat evening and chilled out with a deliciously fresh summer meal: first, in honour of Wimbledon, an apéritif of Pimms, refreshing and packed full of fruit and sprigs of mint, then a bowl of spaghetti served with this simple, pungent raw topping, followed by steamed salmon with our favourite avodado and cilantro salsa.

Summer Spaghetti with Raw Tomato Sauce

1 lb spaghetti

1 lb vine-ripened tomatoes, coarsely chopped

A generous handful of fresh basil leaves, torn coarsely

4 cloves of garlic, peeled, crushed and coarsley chopped

2 small shallots, peeled and chopped

6 stalks of celery, diced

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, prefarably Tuscan

2 tablespoons best quality balsamic vinegar

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Mix together in a large mixing or serving bowl the chopped tomatoes, garlic, shallots, torn basil leaves, extra virgin olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. Leave for the flavours to ripen for at least an hour.

Heat a large pot of water and when boiling, add a tablespoon of salt. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente. Drain and immediately add to the large serving bowl containing the raw vegetable mixture. Toss well and allow the heat from the pasta to just slightly cook the raw sauce. Serve at once, without parmesean cheese, but with a generous twist of coarse black pepper on each bowl.

Wine suggestion: A fresh and pungent summer pasta like this needs a fruity red wine with a slightly bitter bite: try a young, unoaked Barbera d'Asti, Masi's Valpolicella Classico, or Donatella Cinelli Colombini's new release Rosso di Montalcino.


copyright © Marc & Kim Millon 2000

|Home| |QP New Media| |Kim's Gallery|

Copyright © Marc and Kim Millon 2000