Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block is a glittery glam fairy tale, full of enchanting characters living deliciously on a sparkling sun-soaked LA backdrop. Though it views the world through neon pink colored glasses, it sensitively takes on some very real issues. I loved this and the rest of the Dangerous Angels books as a young adult, and adored revisiting it for our podcast.
Illustration by Jill Lydon
Weetzie, her boyfriend Secret Agent Lover Man, her best friend Dirk and his partner Duck, and babies Cherokee and Witch Baby, make a beautiful if unconventional family. Toward the end of the novel, after ups and downs and all being said and done, there is a lovely dinner scene with everyone around a table, with Weetzie feeling perfectly content with her chosen family.
And what’s the dish? Linguine with Clam Sauce, a classic family dinner. I believe on the podcast I said old school, because it feels like in the days before carb aversion and when Italian was “exotic,” everyone’s idea of a fancy dinner was pasta. (But isn’t classic a classier way to say that?) It’s elegantly simple, exactly the type of thing My Secret Agent Lover Man would be making. It’s the type of food that makes you feel warm and safe, surrounded by the people you love, comfort food with style – because Weetzie never does anything without style.
Linguine with Clam Sauce
Adapted from Anne Burrell’s Linguine with White Clam Sauce
- 1 pound clams (I used steamer, next time will probably use littleneck)
- 1 pound linguini
- sea salt or kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 5 cloves garlic, sliced
- Good pinch red chili flakes
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons butter
- handful finely chopped parsley, grated parmesan, olive oil and lemon wedges for garnish
Clean your clams well. I have heard if you soak them in a bowl in the fridge with a couple spoonfuls of flour it will help get all the grit out – I don’t think this is true? But I tried it anyway.
Heat a pot of well-salted water, and cook your linguine to even less than al dente (it will finish in the sauce). If you are some sort of time wizard, you can try to coordinate finishing cooking your linguini with finishing your sauce, so you can directly transfer it to the pot, but I just reserve a mugful of the starchy cooking liquid before draining the pasta. Don’t rinse, the starch will help the sauce stick to the pasta.
Meanwhile, rinse your clams and have them ready. In a pot with a cover (or a wok, as I did), heat olive oil on medium high and add garlic. Cook for a few minutes, stirring, until garlic is golden (being careful not to burn). Add white wine and another half cup of water and bring to a boil. Throw in your clams and cover the pot or wok.
After two minutes they should be steamed open – remove clams and reduce liquid to more than half. Reduce heat to medium and add in the butter and stir to make a silky sauce. Using tongs or forks, toss your pasta in the sauce, adding some of the reserved cooking liquid if necessary. When the linguine is thoroughly coated and cooked, transfer to a large plate, arrange the clams around the edge, and top with finely chopped parsley, grated parmesan, and drizzles of olive oil. Serve with lemon wedges.
Recipe for Fiction Kitchen Episode 15: WEETZIE BAT in which Diana and Carrie discuss the slinkster cool world of Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block, including classic LA eateries, ubiquitous avocados, “fancy” family meals, questionable burrito contents, and strawberry sundaes with marshmallow topping.