People are always joking about how we can’t have nice things, like (for example) when the billionaires ruin space by putting billboards and their bodies in it or when the celebs catch wind of the meme-joke and suck the joy from it. But now that a beloved pasta dish has been milkshake-ducked, revealed to be Actually Sort of Sexist rather than salty and simple, I am bereft. No more jokes! It is with great disappointment that I must report: “Slut Spaghetti” is canceled.
For the unfamiliar, “Slut Spaghetti” is hot chef Nigella Lawson’s take on spaghetti alla puttanesca. Wow, pasta for sluts? Feed me, I’m hungry! was what I initially thought when I first learned of its existence, yesterday afternoon. I know Lawson mostly for her innovative pronunciation of “microwave,” and I did not take any time to reflect upon the reasons why a person might describe their spaghetti recipe as slutty. But as she admits on her website, pasta alla puttanesca apparently translates to “whore’s pasta” in English, so … yeah, I can actually see why she is retiring the moniker. In its place, she offers “Slattern Spaghetti.” According to Merriam-Webster, a “slattern” is “an untidy slovenly woman” (synonyms include “slut” and “prostitute”), which does not feel better, necessarily. But allow Lawson to elaborate:
I recently had a twitter conversation with one Jim Hewitt (@jimbarleycorn) about the new name for this, and I gratefully end with this fabulous message of his: “On those days when my mum couldn’t be bothered to brush her hair and cooked dinner using whatever was in the cupboard she would say: “Hush. I’m slatterning!” This is perfect for a slatterning day.”
Puttanesca, a sauce with a colorful-if-murky history, is made mostly from shelf-stable canned and jarred foods, so if you are the kind of person who always has capers and olives and anchovies on hand, you can allegedly throw it together without hauling yourself to the grocery store. “New name; same gorgeous store-cupboard standby,” Lawson said in a tweet.
The gorgeous slutty pasta is not the only problematic fave to have undergone a rebrand. See: “Ruby Red Raspberries in Chardonnay Jelly,” which you might remember as “Slut Red Raspberries in Chardonnay Jelly,” reportedly a hit from her 2002 cookbook Nigella Summer. Rest assured, 2021’s version remains the “same dessert of dreams,” Lawson’s website promises. “The wine-soused raspberries take on a stained glass, lucent red, their very raspberriness enhanced; the soft, translucently pale coral just-set jelly in which they sit has a heady, floral fragrance that could make a grateful eater weep.” Hm. Sexy, maybe, but slutty? What, just because they’re drunk? “Lucent red” as in red light? I will let Lawson explain herself to you, as she explained herself to a Twitter user wondering “what has happened to this country when we can’t even call that recipe by its hilarious original name.”
“I feel that the word has taken on a coarser, more cruel connotation, and I’m not happy with that,” Lawson wrote. Well, I’m not happy with this, either. Give the people what they want! Give the people the slutberries.