Rudolph Valentino, known today for his iconic status as the main Sensual Latin Lover and Seductive Leading Man of the silent era, was a fun and charming guy who really loved his food. Mainly, delicious garlicky food from his native Italy.
He was a man who inspired a million female fantasies, while he himself happily dreamed about pasta. One of his fellow actors from Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921), Stuart Holmes, said of Valentino: “All he thought about was Italian food. He’d turn those big slumberous eyes on some woman and she’d just about swoon with delight, but he couldn’t have cared less. He was usually thinking about the spaghetti and meatballs he was going to have for dinner that evening.”
Now you, too, can have what Valentino had for dinner that evening! (Sort of–this was probably wasn’t his actual recipe but he could’ve eaten something like it.) Follow this (slightly modified by yours truly) recipe to the letter for an authentic experience:
PREP TIME: Just make sure you have the evening free.
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large onion, diced
1-1/2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1 can (8 ounces) tomato paste
1 can (16 ounces) whole tomatoes, chopped and undrained
1 pound Italian sausage, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary
1 can (2 ounces) anchovies, drained
1/2 cup red wine, plus more wine if needed
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large pot and sauté the onion pieces and mushrooms over low heat until they soften, adding a little water if needed.
Add the tomato sauce, the tomato paste, and the whole tomatoes. Continue to cook over low heat, partially covered.
In a separate skillet sauté the sausage pieces, adding the second tablespoon of oil if they start to stick. Add the minced garlic as the sausage cooks. When the sausage has browned, transfer sausage and garlic to pot. Stir in the oregano and rosemary.
Add the red wine to the hot skillet to deglaze it (be careful), then pour the wine (with any sausage and garlic remnants in it) to the pot. Stir in half of the anchovies.
Simmer the sauce for 10 minutes, partially covered, and taste. Add more anchovies as needed.
Cook for 30 minutes more, stirring occasionally in the style of a seductive Latin lover. Cover the pot and/or add a little more wine if the sauce starts to get too thick.
Go to store, preferably a tiny shop run by a little old couple from Italy. Find handmade spaghetti that comes in 6-foot strands.
Upon returning home, full another large pot with water (add salt as desired) and a bring to a full boil.
Place a stepladder in the kitchen. Standing on top of the ladder, drop the 6-foot strands into the pot of water (do not cut them at any time). Cook until the incredibly long pasta reaches the desired tenderness.
Spoon sauce over the spaghetti, top with grated cheese, and serve to friends. Tell friends that in Italy, it is a massive breach of etiquette to cut your spaghetti.
Laugh hysterically as friends attempt to wind 6 feet of spaghetti onto their forks.
Make sauce as described, but just use regular spaghetti, for the same taste but significantly less authentic Valentino fun. (Wait, you didn’t know he liked practical jokes too?)