Aglio Olio philosophy

August 2, 2010 § Leave a comment

Yesterday, I tasted my uncle’s aglio olio (The Verve @ Lock road) and the moment it entered my mouth, I liked it immensely. A while later, I pondered upon the aglio olio. I learned it could be whipped up in a matter of 1o minutes or so and was made from simple ingredients– olive oil, pepper flakes, garlic and parsley. Yet it appears this simplicity is difficult to master, and really good aglio olio doesn’t come by often.

This made me think how simplicity can be hard to master. It is hard to be a simple person when all the forces of the world seem to be directed against that.

The capitalist system appears to strive on making things complicated. Consider the advertisments of beauty services with some woman endorsing the service stating with a big smile that ‘There are no ugly women, only lazy ones’. Beauty is no longer simple. We are instead led to believe that it has to be backed up by a slew of beauty products and maybe facial reconstructions. And all of this, of course, means the woman has to be super hardworking. The woman endorsing the product didn’t mention that the catchphrase didn’t apply to women who were not financially well-off.

It is not news that society tells women they have to fit a certain standard to be beautiful. Women who have cellulite, or pimples, or thin lips, or blunt noses, or round faces, or short hair don’t fit the bill. Intelligent women may choose not to attempt to fit this standard, but they do not go unpunished for it. The fat woman is thought to be lazy and lacking self-control. The normal looking woman who doesn’t like putting on make-up will probably (or so it has been said in articles on how to prepare for interviews) be thought to be unpresentable if she turns up for an interview/work without it. So women scurry after plastic surgeons and beauticians, and spend their income on make up, trying to look beautiful. And this is normal. Yet as women judged as being physically beautiful know, being beautiful does not mean that their feelings are not toyed with. Physical beauty does not guarantee anything at all. Beauty got complicated, but it is not getting us the results we want.

In fact, there seems to have been devastating results. It is quite common to see women who lack self-worth. Afterall, they have been told countless of times (directly or indirectly) by society and men they’ve encountered that they are just not worth it. Some are given the impression that they are not beautiful enough to be pursued. Others think that they are not beautiful enough to be pursued for more than say, a month. Even the girls judged to be pretty by society’s standards, maybe they’re not charming enough for men to want to go beyond kiss and holding hands to happily ever after, forever and ever. Yet women want to be loved, pursued and protected. I think this combination of attention-hungry women and men who just want to have it easy leads to what is becoming, from how I see it, a phenomena of women lapping whatever crumbs of male attention they have because they think it’s the best they can have.

If I were an aglio olio chef and someone who profits from selling say, turmeric suggest I put some into my food to make it taste good, I would consider carefully ruining the already perfect dish. If I did go ahead with the suggestion, I would add a bit of turmeric and see how it tastes before throwing half the bottle in. It is only the aglio olio chef who has forgotten to appreciate the beauty of the simple dish who grabs at the turmeric bottle and empties it all in. Yet it seems some girls do just that, leading me to think that guys have it too easy. Do we really need to give in to them just because they were nice to us for a few days/weeks? When I say give in, I mean that they go beyond the physical boundaries. Why can’t we wait for a few more months/years to see if they were more serious about us or if they were actually more interested in being in a relationship, any relationship and with anyone who’s interested. Is it because we know they will stop the pursuit and we actually like the attention or like them a bit too? But then if they do, then logically, good riddance! Who wants guys like that?

After I asked this question, I answered in my head, ‘quite a number of women’. It was then I realised how lonely I was. Not really because I am single (although it may be part of the reason), but because through my interactions, I realise too few of my female friends think the same way.

So how should women behave? Should they stash their make-up and dress in frumpy clothes? Stash their make-up–maybe. Dress badly–not advisable, if they’re hiding such wonderful curves beneath them 🙂 but sure, if they just want to be comfortable. No, the aglio olio chef can still try to make his food look presentable. Yet ultimately, the food has to stand up for itself, and no amount of good presentation can disguise horrible tasting aglio olio. Perhaps what I’m saying is you still can try to be clean and neat, and express in your clothes your impeccable taste and style. But just like aglio olio, a delicious dish with simple ingredients, there is no need to go to great lengths to look beautiful. Real beauty is not a face with make-up. It is the kind smile, the tender gaze and the helping hand when one is down that stands out as beautiful to me.  

You can tell me to dream on, but don’t tell me it’s not something that you want. Better than telling me to dream on, make it a point to appreciate the inner beauty of those you meet. Be the kind of woman I can admire and emulate. Or, if you’re a guy, you can be the kind of guy who shows through his actions that women are worth the effort, even if he has to spend countless saturday nights alone.  

note: I started out this blogpost thinking about aglio olio. Then it became apparent that the aglio olio philosophy had the potential to express what has been bugging me for a while. It is interesting how maybe my subconscious brought up aglio olio to reveal what I am really concerned about 🙂

Anyway, this looks like a good aglio olio recipe to try, if you only read this post because you were kinda hungry 🙂


Spaghetti Aglio e OlioServes four

  • 1 lb. dried long pasta
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 medium garlic cloves
  • Paprika
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 or 2 Tblsp. minced fresh herbs such as parsley, fresh oregano or a mixture (optional)
  • Freshly grated Parmesan (pass separately)
Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Cook the pasta al dente and drain, saving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water. While the pasta is cooking, gently warm the olive oil in a large sauté pan, add the garlic either slivered or minced and heat just until the garlic turns golden. If you are using the red pepper flakes, add them here. Remove garlic or not according to your taste. Set oil aside until pasta is drained. Place oil back on medium low flame and toss pasta, in the sauté pan, with salt until well coated. If the pasta seems dry add dribbles of the pasta water. Add herbs and just heat through. Serve immediately with a good grind of black pepper, and pass the grated cheese at table. I also like to have a cruet of olive oil on the table so diners may add a drizzle if they wish. 

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