whore’s pasta and cold coffee
One of my new favorite pasta dishes is pasta alla puttanesca, loosely (ha ha) translated as "Whore's Pasta". It's made with all stuff that keeps forever in the fridge—capers, olives, anchovies, garlic—sautéed up with some onions, diced canned tomatoes, chili flakes, and olive oil, and oh fuck, is it delicious. It keeps really well once cooked, and it's even good for a bruschetta topping, or swiping bread chunks through, for something a little less glam.
Supposedly this recipe came from the brothels of Italy, where "women of the night" either didn't have time to go shopping often enough for fresh foods OR weren't allowed out to the regular markets but once a week, to keep them from mingling too much with "good women". This is probably bullshit—Wikipedia traces its invention to the mid-1950s and an upscale restaurant whose owners no doubt thought they could make a slightly scandalous splash with the name—but it does point out one of the challenges of trying to keep a regular life going under the demands of doing work that exists off the grid, around the clock, and outside people's awareness.
I'm not even going to get into other kinds of sex work; I haven't had those experiences. I just want to talk about food and phone sex. THEY DON'T PLAY WELL TOGETHER SOMETIMES.
Assume for the sake of this discussion that my goal is to stay on call as much as possible...
- I have to time my grocery trips for before 10am, when the phone lines open, or else I will have to sign off in the middle of the afternoon and do the run then. Yes, sometimes I want that break, but it's still time away from the phone.
- If I want to cook something that requires me to pay attention and/or react to very narrow windows of cooktime, say, with tempura or sugar cookies, I have to sign off. I don't often want to make those particular things, but even if I have things that do not handle being overdone—really anything except soups and stews—I have to be paying attention to the timer and either have someone else take them off the heat or fumble around with potentially loud/disruptive pans while talking with a client. Which I do not like to do.
- Whatever I'm eating, I have to be ready to stop eating it if the phone rings. I mention pork chops quite a bit; that's because the phone often rings when the pork chops are fresh out of the pan and ready to eat. The only thing worse than a cold pork chop is a cold lamb chop.
Now, I am happy to be talking about tempura and lamb chops. I recognize my food privilege here; after a childhood of a certain amount of food scarcity, I am glad to have food now, however cold or slightly scorched or sleepily prepared.
But it is just one area in which the little constraints of doing this work pull tighter sometimes. I am hemmed in, not by law, thankfully, but by time, by the chronic, pervasive tug of gotta-make-that-money. Even writing this post, I got interrupted to take a 15-minute call from a regular who wanted his ass pounded. That's the way the coffee cools. The way I make my money waits on other people's pleasure. And that can, and does, happen no matter what is on the stove.