This Pasta Is The Hookup Equivalent Of Engagement Chicken

Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
The recipe for Come Fuck Me Penne à la Vodka has been circulating among single women in New York City since the mid-1990s — which is when I first learned about it. I had just moved from Chicago and was attending my first semi-grown-up Manhattan dinner party with some people from work. We were all standing in the kitchen/living room/dining room, drinking red wine out of Ikea glasses, when one woman started talking about a new man she was dating. They hadn’t slept together yet, and she wanted to move things along.

“Have you tried Come Fuck Me Penne à la Vodka?” another woman asked, taking a sip of her wine. The woman shook her head.

“I’ll send you the recipe — make it on the third date. Done deal.”

What was this sorcery?

According to New York City lore, the ladies in the kitchen told me, Come Fuck Me Penne à la Vodka was a magical pasta dish that, when prepared EXACTLY ACCORDING TO THE RECIPE (they were very careful to say), made people putty in your hands. More specifically, in your bed. Desiring you like never before.

Unlike engagement chicken, which came later, Come Fuck Me Penne à la Vodka isn’t about putting a ring on it. It’s about getting laid.

The recipe was created by Eda Benjakul — a friend of a friend of a friend. Someone she was dating made a similar dish for her (to the same result), and it was so good, she tried to replicate it, adding her own creative touches.

She didn’t set out to create a sex-spell. But as she shared the recipe with her friends, they reported back unexpected correlation between the penne and sex — great sex. They began using it as a seduction and reporting back a 100% success rate. They shared it with friends, who then shared it with their friends, and the recipe worked its way through the single women of Manhattan.

It worked like magic.

Which I needed desperately. I was in my early 20s and had zero confidence where dating was concerned.

My limited sexual experience consisted of a handful of tipsy college fumblings, and one “oh wait, did we just have sex?” episode in a dorm room that lasted under three minutes. I remember this because Tom Petty’s “Yer So Bad” was playing when we started, and I loved that song. When we finished, the song was STILL PLAYING, and I checked iTunes, and that song is three minutes and six seconds long.

I wanted to be a seductress. A woman who knew what she wanted and got it. Secure in her body and with her desires. Every woman in the city seemed so much taller, more sophisticated, and more self-possessed than I was.

A lot of women spend their lives fending off advances; I wasn’t one of them. I was the funny best friend — the Molly Ringwald character. I was either too shy, not sexy enough, or a combination of both.

I grew up my whole life being instructed that all guys wanted was sex. But of course, that’s not entirely true. I could never tell if a guy liked me, and if he didn’t make a move, I figured he wasn’t into me. It never occurred to me to try to make it happen on my own.

Enter Penne.

It sounded ridiculous that a little vodka, shallots, and heavy cream would turn me into Sophia Loren. But it was worth a shot.

WARNING: This shit works FAST.

The first time I made it was for a guy I’d just started dating. You know when you have a headache, and you take an Advil LiquiGel, and then two seconds later, you’re like, Oh wow — my headache’s gone! The penne works that fast.

The second time was with a guy I had already slept with, but the post-Penne sex was 1,000 times better than any sex we’d had before, which was odd because it really is a heavy dish, and it kind of sits in your stomach.

Come Fuck Me Penne à la Vodka is so creamy and rich and delicious. After the first bite, each of my dates looked up from their plates and looked at me differently — like I had just taken my glasses off, like I was Anne Hathaway post-Chanel-makeover in The Devil Wears Prada.

I felt like I was, through pasta, asking for what I wanted. Controlling the way the date went. I felt this tiny surge of power. The penne gave me confidence.

“It worked!” I told the friend who had given me the recipe. She shrugged. “Of course it did,” she said. She had just moved in with a guy for whom she had made the pasta on their third date. They are now happily married, with two kids.

DO NOT IMPROVISE. Seriously. No one knows exactly how it works. Personally, I think it’s adding the butter and parmesan to the hot noodles while they’re still in the colander, BUT I DON’T KNOW THAT FOR SURE. Just stick to the recipe, and make sure you’re ready.

There is only one documented case of Come Fuck Me Penne à la Vodka not working, and it’s with me, the third time I made it.

I had been dating a guy for a few months. I liked him. He was sweet. He was in his 40s and liked comic books. He had a twin bed and an Incredible Hulk poster hanging on his bedroom wall. I realize now these are potentially red flags. But I was young, and didn’t realize then.

He slept over all the time, but we never had sex. I made little passes at him, tried to talk about it, but he never wanted to. It was weird.

And then, I remembered: the penne.

I invited him over for dinner. I made the recipe exactly as it’s written. I lit candles. He took one bite and, like all the others, looked up from his plate and into my eyes, like he was seeing me for the first time.

“This is incredible,” he said.

“I’m glad you like it,” I smiled. I’ve got this, I thought. I’m Sophia Loren.

But that was it. After an awkward couch make-out, he wanted to go to sleep, and the relationship fizzled out shortly after. (Important note: One year later, Incredible Hulk guy, out of nowhere, showed up at my door and proposed to me, which could be a delayed response of overwhelming desire from the penne? I was dating someone else at the time and declined.)

After that, I stopped. With experience and age, I started feeling more confident around dates, and in general. I had a better idea of who I was and what I wanted my life to look like, with or without a relationship. I made penne for myself. I seduced without a pasta crutch.

As often happens, I met a guy once I stopped looking. He was grounded and sexy and handsome and easy to be with. Two years later, we got married.

I love to cook, and I do it all the time, but it occurs to me that in the almost eight years we’ve been together, I’ve never made Come Fuck Me Penne à la vodka for him. Not once. Maybe it’s because we had sex on our first date. Maybe it’s because I never felt I had to. Maybe I outgrew the penne. Maybe I didn’t need it anymore.

I still keep it tucked in my recipe book, though, in case any friends need a helping hand.
Illustrated by Tristan Offit.
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