"Ciao, bello! What's in the bag?" She grabbed at the shoulder of her robe just as it slipped to her breast (seno) and pulled it up.
"Ciao, Carmen. Chicken Cacciatore." Guido tried to act naturally but he was stressed. Seeing Carmen always made him stressed and seeing her in her red silk robe with her breast (mamella) momentarlly exposed made him much more stressed than usual.
"No luck on the hunt?" She smiled her most beguiling smile and leaned into him.
There was an awkward pause while Carmen waited for Guido to help the conversation along but he seemed to have nothing else to say and was intent on staring at the toes of his boots.
"The hunting was good last night for me." she said.
Carmen winked, tilted her head from side to side and put her hands on her slightly swaying hips causing the clingy fabric to highlight her Sophia Loren-like form. Guido's boots lost the battle for his attention and he tried very hard not to stare at her. He knew for sure she was wearing nothing at all under her silk. He tried not to think about how many men she'd been with the night before. Instinctively, he could tell she was very good at her job. Not wanting to think about her expertise or hear anymore about her hunt Guido tried to end the conversation.
"Well, I gotta go." He began to turn away.
"Guido! What's the rush?" She put her hand on his bicep, kneading it slightly.
"I... just..." Eyes back to his boots, he turned towards her again.
"Come in. Have a coffee." She slipped her finger through his belt loop and tugged.
Guido, having had a disappointing day, had no will to fight and allowed himself to be pulled into her flat. Maybe, he thought, it wouldn't be so bad to be the one who was hunted for a change.
In addition to her other courtesanly talents Carmen was charmin'. Carmen was also a gal who knew what she wanted and Chicken Cacciatore sounded like just the ticket. And truth be told, she'd always thought Guido had a certain something--maybe an odd mix of Roberto Begnini and Marcello Mastroianni--quirky but handsome. She decided tonight might be the night to look into it a bit further. It didn't take long before she persuaded Guido to unload his groceries onto her kitchen counter. And being a girl who had her own things to bring to the table she contributed olives, capers, garlic, olive oil, thyme, basil, spaghetti and a little sweet vinegar to the fixings.
Together they made Chicken Cacciatore Puttanesca. And it was good. It was indeed so good and the wine so powerful that they decided to make a night of it. Carmen did not go out for her evening hunt so that she and Guido could continue to cook--really cook. After they cooked in the kitchen, they cooked in the parlor and after the parlor, they cooked in the bedroom and when they'd worn the sheets off the bed they cooked in the shower. In fact, they cooked so well together Carmen ended up with two buns in the oven. Now that's what you call cooking.
So they decided to go with the cosmic flow. They married, had their two buns (Franco and Francesca) and opened a restaurant. Carmen gave up hooking for cooking. Guido never once regretted being the prey instead of the predator. They continued to cook more sensibly and use precautions because with a restaurant and two babies, they had more than enough on their plates. Their special house dish was Chicken Cacciatore Puttanesca.
Chicken Cacciatore Puttanesca
- Chicken breast, 1 large boned, skinned. Cut in half, and halves cut longitudinally into 4 pieces to equal 8 strips.
- Red peppers, 3, seeded and sliced into 1/4" strips
- Onion,1 medium, chopped
- Basil, 1/2-1 cup, chopped
- Thyme, as much as you like
- Garlic, 2 cloves, minced or pressed
- Capers, 2-3 TBSP
- Black, pitted kalmata olives cut into halves, 1 cup or more
- Heirloom tomatoes, 2 medium chopped
- Sweet vinegar--scant TBSP--fig vinegar, balsalmic or something along those lines. If you don't have anything else, add a little sugar instead.
- Red wine
- Olive oil
- Flour, seasoned with salt and pepper for dredging chicken.
Add a bit more oil to the pan and saute onions, then add peppers and garlic. Cook until soft, about 4 mins. Add some red wine to help deglaze the pan and add tomatoes, thyme, capers, vinegar and olives. Let that cook down for a little bit, 5 mins. at most, and add back the chicken and basil. Keep at medium heat until the chicken has rewarmed. You can add some more red wine if you think it looks dry. It should be a chunky, thick sauce.
Serve over pasta or rice, as desired.
P.S. To say they lived happily ever after would be over simplifying. 18 years went by before they were able to use the parlor or kitchen table for cooking. But when the twins went off to university, they were able to once again cook all over the house.