The simplest of all pasta traditions, but also very easy to fuck up badly. Here's the lowdown on that simple yet elusive preparation:
Red pepper flakes
You already know how to cook pasta, right? Don't make me tell you to add salt to the water or make sure it's boiling before you drop it in, and if you rinse it I'm gonna break your neck. Anyone heard of Al Dente? No? If you overcook it I'll send Al down to break your neck, too!
Now, get yourself a big ol' pan and some good extra virgin olive oil ("extra virgin", that was me in high school).
Chop up a bunch of garlic (at least a half dozen cloves--don't make me come down there!)
NO, you cannot use garlic powder, paste, or that damn garlic press... Get out your big knife and make a scene!
Put the pan on some heat, put oil in the pan (half a cup, more or less--it's good for you, so shut up and pour!)
Go ahead and throw the garlic in the pan--here's the thing--we're not browning it, we just want to get it translucent and slightly sizzling. As soon as you hear a sizzle, TURN THE DAMN HEAT OFF!! Then, toss in a pinch or three of red pepper flakes. The residual heat will continue to develop the the garlic and pepper flavor. If you brown it, it will go bitter on you.
Drain the pasta when it's ready, and immediately toss in the pan with the oil. Throw it in a bowl and eat it, then continue to eat out of the pan until it's gone.
Serve with slightly chilled leftover red wine from previous night--preferably in a rocks glass or ceramic mug. Chase it with an apple or pear and you have the perfect lunch.