For me, there are few foods which can compete with the pleasure and satisfaction of enjoying a great plate of pasta. It is difficult to imagine surviving without it!
My first introduction to the mysteries of pasta was in my Nonna Maria’s kitchen. Endless innovations of pasta and sauces were created to satisfy the family’s appetites – always keeping in mind quality of ingredients and seasonal availability. True to an old proverb saying that “food is first eaten with the eyes”, she transformed flour and eggs into strangozzi, tagliatelle, pappardelle, tagliolini, tortelli, maltagliati, cappelletti …
Pasta has been with me all my life. The first solid food that Mamma fed me was in the form of pastina. Then I was raised on endless forms paired with so many exquisite sauces: from garlic, EVOO and peperoncino, to truffle, butter and parmigiano, field greens, seafood, ragu alla bolognese, porcini mushrooms, legumes or the savoury rosemary scented drippings from lamb or “arista di maiale” pork roasts.
My sons’ passion for food began at an early age, observing the creation of hand-made ricotta and swiss chard Easter tortelli and Christmas chicken filled cappelletti. It was then that their love for pasta was developed and has fed their passion from then on. Their favourite playroom was the kitchen. They began chopping onions as soon as their hands could firmly handle a knife, and stirring the bubbling sauce when they were tall enough to look into the pot on the stove. As they grew, cooking became a favourite and passionate activity, balancing the flavours of the sauces with aromatic fresh herbs and condiments, matching shapes and types of pasta to obtain satisfying flavours and delicious tastes.
After many debates on the genesis of pasta, the fact remains that the combination of flour, water and eggs to form a dough, dried and cut into numerous thicknesses and shapes, has become one of the greatest and most versatile foods ever created. However, Italians have been making and perfecting pasta for centuries. Although it has evolved into many different shapes, the basic ingredients are still the same.
Pasta, the most appreciated dish in the world, is nothing less than a culinary tribute to Italy’s culture and tradition.
Next time, I hope that I will be able to clear up misconceptions about Italian pasta and to provide you with some fundamentals needed to choose, prepare, serve and enjoy this symbol of Italian gastronomy!
Until then ……..Buon Appetito!