|“||I asked them to make dinner, and all they have made is some disgusting sauce.||”|
Pasta puttanesca is an Italian dish that the Baudelaire orphans had prepared for Count Olaf's dinner when he told them to make it for him and his theater troupe in The Bad Beginning. Since then, it had been mentioned on rare occasions.
Puttanesca sauce is described as being made "by sauteing olives, capers, anchovies, garlic, chopped parsley, and tomatoes" in a pot and preparing pasta to go with it.
The full recipe is as follows:
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 5 cloves minced garlic
- 2-3 anchovies from an anchovy can, diced
- 28oz diced tomatoes, canned or fresh
- 2 tbsp capers
- 3/4 cup pitted olives (black or green, whichever you prefer), roughly chopped
- 1 lb pasta
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.
- Dice the garlic and anchovies and sauté in the skillet for three minutes, until the anchovies dissolve and the garlic is tender.
- Add the diced tomatoes, capers, and chopped olives.
- Turn down the heat and let the sauce simmer, a culinary term that means "cook at a very low heat."
- This would be a good time to cook the pasta, or look up the word "puttanesca" in an Italian dictionary. [see: Trivia]
- After the mixture has simmered for four minutes, add the parsley.
- Let cook for one minute while you drain the pasta.
- Before serving, mix the pasta with the sauce, and finish with grated cheese.
When the Baudelaires were unsure what to make for Count Olaf's dinner, they found a recipe for the pasta in a cookbook in Justice Strauss' library. They hoped that if they served him a nice meal, Olaf might treat them kinder and respectfully.
Unfortunately, when they finally served it to him, along with chocolate pudding for dessert, an ungrateful Olaf asked where the roast beef was. When the Baudelaire children replied that he did not request them to prepare it, nor do they have it with them, he violently slapped Klaus. However, this was likely just his excuse to slap Klaus, as it seems that it was not the roast beef that set him off, but rather, Klaus reminding him that the Baudelaire fortune is not to be used until Violet is of age.
Afterwards, when the Baudelaires re-entered the kitchen, Violet caught a glimpse of the sauce and it reminded her of a vat of blood, symbolically representing how Olaf's outburst negatively affected their mood.
At the time of the Baudelaires' stay at Lake Lachrymose, Violet offered to prepare puttanesca for Josephine Anwhistle, who refused due to her crippling concern that the stove might burst into flames.
How the pasta is made differs in each adaptation. In the book, although the recipe book mentions spaghetti, the Baudelaires go to a pasta store and buy "interestingly shaped" noodles.
In the film, the Baudelaires already find random pasta scattered around Count Olaf's filthy kitchen. There is also deleted scene in the film where Count Olaf walks on the table and cruelly kicks the dinner around the room:
- Pasta Puttanesca, in Italian, roughly translates to "in the style of the prostitute" or "whore's spaghetti." According to tradition, the dish was named as such due to the affordability of the ingredients and how easy it is to prepare, meaning it could be cooked quickly between visits with a prostitute's clients. One clever nickname for the dish is "pastitute", a combination of the words pasta and prostitute.
- In the 2004 film, Klaus incorrectly claims that puttanesca means "very few ingredients," to which Violet dismissively responds "that's great." Later, when Klaus tells the name of the dish to Olaf, the Count seems to recognize the word, as he angrily asks what Klaus has called him.
- In the Netflix adaptation, Klaus simply wonders "what that means in Italian."