Food Adventures

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

My New Year's resolution

Yes, I did make a New Year's resolution—to make (and eat) more pasta! That said, a word is in order about home-made fresh pasta and its vast superiority over dried pasta (for most recipes) as well as store-bought 'fresh' pasta (How can anything that has an expiration date two months away be called 'fresh'?). Now, this doesn't mean that I do not from time to time resort to dried pasta because I do. In my opinion, there are recipes for which high-quality dry spaghetti works best (e.g. Neapolitan pasta with a simple tomato sauce and buffalo mozzarella).

I will also purchase fresh pasta others have made, but only the kind that is really fresh and could not possibly last in the fridge for more than a couple of days. I usually buy fresh pasta either to eat it immediately (because I don't have time to make my own) or to freeze it immediately for those 'emergency' situations when I really want fresh pasta, but have no time/energy/will to make my own. Fresh Pasta on Harlem (just a half a block North of Belmont) has some excellent fresh pasta (as the name of the store implies) and Terragusto's tagliatelle (especially the kind with Swiss chard) is also very good.

But, for me, the best fresh pasta is the one I make at home. There is something about the time and effort that goes into it, the process of taking flour, salt, water (and sometimes eggs) and turning it into sheets of pasta that smell so heavenly fresh that you can barely wait to cut and cook them. The 10 or so minutes of kneading the dough requires provide a nice escape and an occasion to daydream. After a long day at the computer, there is no better way to transition into the evening and the pleasures of dinner and rest. The kneading helps work out all the stress that has accumulated during the day and, even though it's hard work, leaves me invigorated (and hungry!).

So far, I have kneaded and rolled out all my home-made pasta by hand. The giant rolling pin (shown in my blog of December 5) makes things fun and easy, but it does require some practice. My upper body took a little while to recover from wielding such a heavy piece of equipment (taking it out of the cupboard is a feat), but now we're friends.

It's not that I am opposed to pasta machines. I simply haven’t decided what kind I want to get; in the meantime, making and eating fresh pasta has been too important to put on the back burner.

I hope none of the people who will eat pasta at my house are like certain Italian foodies described in Heat (by Bill Buford): they travel out of their way to eat at a restaurant famous for its fresh pasta, take one bite, declare it has been rolled out using a machine, and promptly walk out the door. We might have to do some blind taste tasting to see who can tell the difference.

Well, all this writing about fresh pasta is making me hungry. I better go make some pasta!


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