Tomato and Spinach Tortellini


My mother’s favorite game when I was growing up–to me, it seemed more a game than anything else–was flipping apartments.

My childhood is marked, not by memories in one room, but by days of finding my room at the back end of a new apartment, like a treasure hunt. The four of us kids usually didn’t see the new place until it was completely finished — wallpaper we had helped pick out of a catalogue already dried, the floors emanating the scent of oil and the walls still smelling of fresh paint, the furniture we recognized from the old place in new and unfamiliar places. To this day, when I walk by an apartment being renovated and smell that smell, I’m propelled back in time.

Every once in awhile, though, my mother would have to meet with a contractor, and we would be allowed to play in the new space, brown paper covering the floors, doorknobs removed and set aside until the fresh coat of paint had dried. I remember, especially as I got older, being in awe as I watched my mother go over floor plans and look at swatches of color and fabric; in her mind, the house was already ready to be lived in. To me, it looked like a mess.

I have never been able to look at a map and see what it’s trying to say. I get lost coming out of the métro stop, even if I’ve just looked at the map of the area. I call the Country Boy, who sighs and laughs a little and then gives directions that make sense to him, but not to me.

“Cross the street.”

“Which one?”

“The one in front of you.”

“I’m at an intersection.”

“Well just keep going on that street.”

“Up or down?”

“Towards Bastille.”

“How the heck should I know where Bastille is?”

I’m very frequently lost. My spatial reasoning is horrible. I don’t get how other people see the world.


That being said, I’m very much at home in the kitchen. I know where everything is, and there’s a logic there that makes sense to me and that, I recognize, does not make sense to TCB. One day last week, after a very long filming, I came home and told him I was too tired to make dinner, something that has never actually happened before. On the rare occasions where I don’t feel like cooking, we order in. But I was hungry and it was late, and I asked him to take care of it.

After 15 minutes, he came out of the kitchen, a worried look on his face, holding a bag of raw pasta.

The kitchen doesn’t make sense to him. Pretty much no other place makes sense to me. It’s a very odd — but quite symbiotic — relationship.


Tomato and Spinach Tortellini

300 grams fresh tortellini (I used a combination of ham and cheese, but use what you like)

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 large can peeled, whole tomatoes
2 handfuls of fresh baby spinach
2 heaping tablespoons of crème fraiche
fresh black pepper and salt

Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Crush the garlic clove and add it. Cook it, stirring frequently, until it becomes golden on all sides. Remove and discard.

Add the tomatoes to the pot, crushing each one in your hand as you add it. Add the juice and season with salt and pepper. Simmer 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the tortellini according to package directions.

Drain the tortellini and return it to its pot. Add your desired amount of sauce; you may have extra. Add the spinach directly to the pot of tortellini and stir until it is wilted.

Serve the tortellini in bowls. Top with the crème fraiche and some freshly ground pepper.


3 thoughts on “Tomato and Spinach Tortellini

  1. I just had to laugh reading this Emiglia! You so described my spatial experience in life. “You are here” on that map only makes me ask more questions, but the kitchen? You nailed it. Now I must try this scrumptious-looking tortellini!

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