The Tenant and Creamy, Dairy-Free Pasta

A few years ago Carl and I had a business where we worked out of a studio above a one bedroom apartment on a large block of land that had distant water views.  When Carl would disappear on appointments leaving me ‘home alone’ I used to take a few breaks from my desk and wander over to the windows where I could get some sunshine and enjoy the view.

The only problem was my serenity would be intruded upon by the tenant down below.  He was about 60 and had moved in with a sad story of having lost his fortune through a number of divorce settlements and now needed somewhere inexpensive to live.  He had migrated to Australia many years ago and had recently moved across the country to re-establish himself in Sydney.

Creamy Dairy-Free Pasta

He signed a 12-month lease on the understanding no pets were allowed but promptly moved in with a cat and a number of caged birds.  A girlfriend appeared too but she wasn’t there permanently as she was married to someone else and occasionally felt the need to go back to the man she had married.  There were rumours she was employed by the oldest profession in the world but perhaps they were just rumours; or perhaps he told us about her ‘career’.

He was employed as a taxi driver but this didn’t work out well for him as he was constantly out of work for losing his licence for running red lights or speeding, or being fired for driving the taxi up the back of a parked car and writing it off.  When I asked him how he came to slam the taxi into a parked car he said it was because the passenger in his taxi had fallen asleep and he kept looking behind him to make sure she was actually asleep and not dead.

But it wasn’t his driving skills or his cat and birds or married red-light girlfriend that bothered me, it wasn’t even the posters of girls on the back of motorbikes lining the bedroom walls that bothered me; it was that being almost permanently unemployed, he was always at home.

And he didn’t like to wear clothes.

He had a car that he worshiped (and couldn’t drive because he didn’t have a licence), and he would be outside my vista cleaning his car wearing only black, tight underpants with a pair of thongs on his feet.  If I happened to be outside collecting the mail or taking out the garbage and he saw me, he wouldn’t be phased in the slightest.  Just didn’t have a problem with me seeing him in a pair of ultra-tight, over-stretched black underwear that in the sunlight were practically see-through.

And trying to keep my eyes above his one item of clothing I was faced with a bare chest covered in grey hair with a big gold chain around his neck finishing in a swinging medallion.  Over one side of his chest and nipple area he sported a tattoo of Marilyn Monroe.  A large one but she was now drooping and sagging with age.

I’d try to collect the mail without him seeing me but I was never that lucky.  ‘Hello, how are you, Charlie?’  he’d ask.

‘Oh, hi Mark.  Really busy actually.  Really rushing.  How are you?’

And he’d walk towards me beaming broadly and would tell me all his troubles and plans for his future and it wasn’t easy getting away.

Eventually he moved on, owing us rent money but promising he’d pay us back ‘one day’ and saying if we ever needed a taxi, he’d be more than happy to drive us around – for free!


Not as tempting as this creamy pasta that’s dairy-free.

Chorizo and Cannellini Bean Pasta

Creamy Chorizo and Cannellini Bean Pasta

Serves:  4

Degree of Difficulty:  2/5

Cost:  Nominal.  Pasta and chorizo and cannellini beans are very affordable.

  • 400g penne pasta (spaghetti would work well too)  I used organic spelt. 
  • 400g can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 375mls chicken stock
  • small handful of thyme, leaves only
  • 2 chorizo sausages, sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely diced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 handfuls rocket

Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil and cook pasta according to directions on the packet.

Meanwhile, place cannellini beans, stock and thyme in a small saucepan and bring to the boil.  Remove from heat and blend.

In a small frying pan, cook chorizo until crispy and fat begins to render.  Turn down the heat, add garlic and cook gently being careful not to burn the garlic.  Turn off the heat and stir through lemon juice.

When pasta is cooked, rinse and drain and return to saucepan with a little of the cooking water.  Add bean puree, chorizo and rocket.  Toss to combine and serve.

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  1. Oh hahahah Charlie.. what a hilarious story.. That guy sounds like quite the character and I can’t believe he shafted you on rent money after he left! Ps that pasta looks grrrrreat!!

  2. Too funny, Charlie! Just as well he moved on.. 🙂

  3. I love the idea of this bean-based pasta sauce – what a lovely meal. A bit more lovely than your neighbour I think!!

  4. Good grief…it’s quite funny though as I didn’t have to live through it!

  5. hm… there are many people like that in the world. you feel like helping because u feel with their trouble but if you do u get swamped by their disturbing self concentrated constant self pity.

    Love your psta ingredients combination, something for my house! 😉

  6. GROSS. SO GROSS. The man, not this pasta.

    The pasta, in fact…looks luscious. If it could wear underpants I’d be more than happy to see it in them.

  7. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says:

    LOL he sounds like a character. but one best enjoyed in a story told rather than through actual sighting-drooping Marilyn tattoo and all! 😛

  8. Minnesota Prairie Roots says:

    Yuck to Mark. Yum to the pasta.

  9. Maybe you should have said, “I heard once that men with really small
    penises walked around in only their underpants and I never believed it
    until today.”

    I have never had a gluten free pasta dish that I thought worthy of eating but this looks really good, Charlie.

  10. Let me know the next time you fix this dish. 🙂

  11. Nice! And the story; it’s great! I am part of a writing blog with four others and this week we are doing creepy neighbors….your story definitely fits in!

  12. Funny story and a gorgeous plate of pasta. And the china dish it’s in is beautiful as well.

  13. kitchenriffs says:

    Really funny story. I’m sure the first thing all of us would think of when someone fell asleep in the backseat is that of course they must be dead! 😉 At least he was entertaining, although too bad about your lost rent. Anyway, nice pasta – I can never have too many pasta recipes. Good story, good recipe – thanks.

  14. I don’t eat much pasta these days but you always make me want to with your tantalizing recipes. What a story Charlie, we had a house with an apartment we rented but fortunately our renters were always respectably dressed, at least when I saw them.

  15. Victoria of Flavors of the Sun says:

    I agree, the pasta is definitely more tempting. Aren’t people fascinating though? Funny, yet poignant story and great recipe.

  16. Barb Bamber says:

    Good lord!! I laughed when you said.. “really busy.. really rushing” because that’s the line I always use when I want out of a nasty situation with someone! And nasty he was! He probably moved away to avoid payments to his poor ex-wives!! Now the pasta dish… that’s lovely!!

  17. Oh man!!!! What a tenant!!!! Lol! You had me laughing and cringing at the same time. Nice pasta dish, crisp and fresh.

    I loved your Monroe tattoo description, lol!

  18. Oh that’s a nightmare tenant/neighbor, Charilie. Poor guy…sounds like he didn’t have a very accurate vision of himself, huh? Just think what you’d be blogging about if this were a current circumstance. And you’d have pictures! The pasta sounds divine, though. I love the transition to what is REALLY tempting! Not the cab ride, or cabbie, for sure! 🙂

  19. A good read. What a tenant! My god. I was smiling when I read the taxi episode. Nice easy pasta recipe. I like those kind of recipes on a week night.

  20. I suppose a tenant with good intentions would describe him best 😉
    He would never have left had he tried your incredible pasta! 🙂

    Choc Chip Uru

  21. The Squishy Monster says:

    I always enjoy your stories…at least he paid you in…entertainment? lol…this dish is another story though…how rich for being dairy free! I just love cannellini beans, and this is yet another testament to why =)

  22. Great story. I know that feeling of trying to avoid certain people and never managing it. It must be Murphy’s Law or it could be that they try desperately to thwart your avoidance plans.

  23. That guy would have creeped me out, Charlie. And that’s probably why he did it and made sure you saw him doing it. Sounds like he was harmless but still …
    That pasta sounds great! Love that it uses cannellini beans for their creaminess and the rocket would be a great addition fo fresh flavors and texture.

  24. Jennifer Cullen says:

    Love the description of your lovely tenant. Wonder what ever happened to him!

  25. Claire @ Claire K Creations says:

    Some people just have no shame do they!? He sounds like quite a character. I think I’d rather a bowl of your pasta than and chat with him.

  26. yummychunklet says:

    Dairy-free? Sounds awesome.

  27. Dear Charlie,

    I think I would choose that plate of pasta any day over big grey hairy chest and sagging MM, even with a gold medallion thrown in!

  28. InTolerant Chef says:

    You big Wofford! You could have kicked him out any time for breaching his lease but you didn’t 🙂 If you still had it, it would be Archie living there disturbing your serenity by stumbling around in his undies or pj’s and scamming money and food from you if you tried to sneak out for the mail! 🙂

  29. Nice pasta Charlie…it sure sounds and looks very flavorful…in regards to the tenant…gives me goose bump just to read your post…ewww!
    Hope you are having a fun week 🙂

  30. Jed Gray (sportsglutton) says:

    Ya that just sounds creepy. Gold chains are to be avoided at all costs.

  31. I’ll take the pasta thanks!

  32. My Kitchen Stories says:

    Perfect segway into a lovely pasta and happily passing by that revolting grey hairy chested man……. MMMMM

  33. Yum, sounds delicious….the past I mean. Of course!! 😉

  34. This looks delicious Charlie! And I know that type…had to make for great stories at the dinner table!

  35. Sweet Posy Dreams says:

    Oh yuck — the man, not the food. Just creepy.

  36. mjskit says:

    And this is way I never wanted tenants! 🙂 Great story but a even better pasta dish!

  37. Ewwwww. But the pasta looks great!

  38. Oh no – its like being imprisoned in your own house – not wanting to venture out in case you bumped into him. Yukky.

  39. Haha, I’m sorry you had this experience but despite everything you said I still can’t help thinking that he must be one cool neighbour to have… at least in my opinion :D. What a colourful character!

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