Twenty years or more ago I started making a simple pasta dish for those nights we wanted something light and basically meatless: I’d fry some garlic and anchovies in olive oil, then mix it with spaghetti. At some point I thought it would be more flavorful with a little onion. In time I began to add black peppercorns and red pepper flakes, then capers, then diced tomatoes . . . and it just kept getting better.
Now how did that happen? Did I somehow internalize the recipe for spaghetti alla puttanesca without realizing it, or did I just happen to come up with something good that other people had also, in the course of things, happened to come up with? Maybe pasta cries out on its own for garlic, onion, anchovies, red pepper, tomatoes . . . making whores of all of us?
In deference to those who came before me, I added “alla puttanesca” to the title of my recipe today. If you haven’t tried it, you really should.