Sunday, June 12, 2011

True Believer: Easy Weeknight Pasta

True Believer is the first half of a two-part story that continues with At First Sight. I've read that Nick had originally intended for it to be only one book, but the story got so long and complicated he decided to divide it into two. This was just fine with me, because when these books came out, one came in the fall and the other in the spring. Two Sparks books in one year! That hasn't happened since.

Meet Jeremy Marsh, a city slicker journalist from New York, who travels to the fictional town of Boone Creek, North Carolina for an article he's writing for Scientific American. The town is known for its rich history, and more importantly, the mysterious lights that appear from time to time in an old graveyard. There are all kinds of legends surrounding these lights, and many people are content to believe they are caused by ghosts. Others are inclined to suspect a more logical explanation, and Jeremy is called on to get to the bottom of the mystery.

We interrupt this blog to bring you the following cartoon, Mater and the Ghost Light.

Now back to our regularly scheduled blog post.

Enter Lexie Darnell, the town librarian. Upon arriving in Radiator Springs--er, Boone Creek--and after checking in to his motel room at the Greenleaf Inn (which is owned by the local taxidermist, and to Jeremy's horror, is decorated with an assortment of dead animals), Jeremy decides to check out the cemetery that is the cause of so much excitement in town. There he finds a beautiful lady wandering among the graves and strikes up a conversation with her. Turns out that as the librarian, she has been assigned the task of helping him find the books and articles he needs to do the research for his story.

We soon learn that it was Lexie's grandmother, Doris, who wrote Jeremy and asked him to investigate the graveyard lights and write the article explaining the cause of them. Doris, it seems, has a sixth sense, a kind of ESP if you will, and is able to perceive things most people can't, like reading people's moods and predicting the sex of babies in the womb. Doris doesn't buy the old ghost light story, and wants Jeremy to solve the mystery once and for all.

Lexie grew up in Boone Creek, and was raised by Doris after her parents were killed in an automobile accident. Lexie and Doris are very close, and Lexie often drops by Doris' house after work and the two cook dinner together. After meeting Jeremy in the cemetery and at the library, Lexie finds she is quite taken with him, but at the same time finds him a little bit arrogant and self-centered and doesn't quite know what to do with those mixed feelings. That night while preparing and eating a simple meal of pasta and salad, Lexie is quiet and Doris suspects that it has something to do with the tall dark stranger who's just rolled into town.

What are Lexie and Doris having for dinner? Pasta tossed with sautee'd bacon, onions, and garlic, and a tossed salad with tomatoes and carrots.

I found this wonderful applewood smoked bacon at our local butcher shop. I don't think I'll ever buy bacon anywhere else.

I diced up the bacon along with some onions, and sautee'd them together with some minced garlic,

and tossed it all up with some spaghetti.

After throwing together a tossed salad,

...dinner is served! I had gluten-free rice pasta on my plate, and a hunk of fresh mozzarella on the side. Easy and delicious!

Lexie and Jeremy do fall in love, as you may have guessed; I'll tell you a little bit more about that as we continue our journey through this two-volume soap opera. We'll have another picnic, and we'll also try making the pasta sauce that Lexie whips up for Jeremy when he shows up unannounced at her beach house one cold winter afternoon.

In the meantime I'll be revisiting a couple of earlier books with an Eastern North Carolina barbecue recipe, and we might even make ice cream. Stay tuned!

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