Bookery: Progress on Villette

I am in the middle of reading Charlotte Bronte’s Villete, which thus far centers on the first-person narrator Lucy Snowe and her travels in the fictional metropolis from which the novel gets its title. I just recently finished Shirley, which was very much a slow read for the first 200 pages but which soon picked up and became (in my eyes) a relatively good piece of work.

I am hoping that the same is the case for this novel, as it has yet to pick up and has a vexing amount of French passages that require me to give constant attention to the annotations at the back of the edition. Also mildly irritating is the fact that, thus far, I have seen little of the female dual self as transgression, although I have seen some character inconsistencies that could be considered transgressive, particularly Madame Beck’s androgyny and Lucy’s extreme coldness (which, according to a note in the back of the edition, counters what her first name is supposed to connote). The startling lack of post-its I have used in the first 100 pages leads me to believe that I will likely not use this novel in the great thesis of doom but will instead be nothing more than a pleasure read in the end of things. Nonetheless, I have resolved to enjoy it and all of its Victorian splendor to my utmost and will continue moving towards its conclusion with as much vigor as exam week can spare.



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Cookery: Butterless Alfredo Sauce

Ah… this is a nostalgic recipe. It takes me all the way back to one of my very first kitchen experiments.

As a young child, I was always very much an Italian at heart (although I have none in my family history). I used to follow Emeril Lagasse’s Alfredo recipe almost to the tee. But at some point, I must have gotten fed up with the shallot… or the obnoxious amount of butter. I decided to do something practically unheard of: I decided to make Alfredo without butter.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “How can this be? Alfredo without butter? You’re absurd!” On the contrary, I find Butterless Alfredo to be quite delectable. A friend who had tried both recipes said it was better than Emeril’s, but taste is quite an individual thing. This slightly healthier Alfredo sauce does not separate in the microwave thanks to my ingenious use of olive oil, which is liquid at room temperature (as opposed to butter, which is solid).

This has been my greatest secret for several years, and here I go publishing it on the internet. It’s too good to keep to myself, and it is positively better than anything I have had from a jar. It’s not rocket science, people… quit putting paste on your pasta!

I’ve put the “economy sized” batch up (serves 2-3 people), but doubling the recipe works better for larger groups.


2 tbsp. olive oil

1 heaping tbsp. minced garlic (or 2-3 cloves)

1/8 cup flour

1/8 cup olive oil

1 cup half and half (or heavy cream, if you prefer)

4 oz grated Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup milk


  1. In a sauce pan, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil and garlic. Cook for five minutes or until garlic starts turning golden.
  2. Add the remaining oil and flour to make a roux. Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes until flour turns golden.
  3. Whisk in half and half. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Whisk in Parmesan cheese gradually (I usually split it into 3-4 smaller portions) until sauce becomes creamy.
  5. If necessary, and only if necessary, add some milk to thin the sauce out to a more (for lack of a better word) saucy consistency.
  6. Serve over the pasta of your choice. I personally like whole-wheat linguini, but penne is also good (because the ridges hold the sauce).

This is a pretty versatile sauce in my opinion. It is possible to add some white wine instead of milk to do the thinning. I’ve also done this recipe with chicken and mushrooms, and it was delicious. Fresh parsley is a nice garnish, as is more Parmesan, and if it isn’t salty enough, then it can be salted and peppered to taste.


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