How To Make Good Pasta

positano1Although pasta is not a french dish, and it was probably created by the Chinese, its heart lies in Italy, which like its politics is “eat drink and be merry for tomorrow is yet another day to eat pasta.”

Italy, a culture where many grown men live at home with mama until they marry, a unique state of affairs  when considered with the  common practice of sending their dirty laundry via special delivery half across the country for her to wash and press when they are traveling.

Historically, the roman orgy’s of wine and grapes served with cheese, bread and roasted pheasant were hosted by legions of legendary warriors, senators lending an ear (hopefully not in the food), cultivating a bulimic society reflected by the sculptured roman bodies perfected and on display in museums. Somewhere, pasta came into being, a variety of shapes of pure carbohydrates that when broken down by the body are chemically transformed into sugar elevates triglycerides.

sophia-loren-saladPerhaps its helpful to envision the ultimate Italian matriarch as Sophia Loren, portraying a peasant woman on film, a daughter of Naples standing in a lower class apartment at street level, wearing an apron embroidered with the word “manga” overlooking the Mediterranean with bright sunlight bathing the room filled with stifling air from the heat of the stove without central air conditioning, her hair up while the dripping sweat from her brow falls into the vat as she stirs a large pot of pasta with a large wooden spoon looking out of the window, yelling “Marcello! Marcello!, venga aqui”,  possibly after watching an Italian film festival of cinema classics such as the vast array of characters created by Italian director Federico Fellini. For it was Sophia Loren who was quoted as saying, “Everything you see I owe to pasta” and  “The best way to eat Spaghetti is to suck it in like a vacuum cleaner.”

Putting all that aside, pasta varies only in color and form rather than substance like ice cubes that are molded by the shape of the tray. Water is after all water and  pasta is pasta, no matter what it’s appearance. What makes a good dish is the sauce.

– Overripe tomato’s
– shallots
– Fresh garlic
– Salt
– Pepper
– Olive oil
– Fresh rosemary
– Your pasta of choice, spaghetti, linguine, etc.

Saute some sliced and diced shallots and fresh garlic in olive oil in a large pot till translucent as the aroma fills the air. Add salt and pepper and some fresh rosemary. Philosophically speaking, the amounts don’t matter since it depends on the number of people you are cooking for.

Peel the skin of each tomato then grabbing them in the palm of your hand squish them into the pot between your fingers and dump the remainder into the mix. The kids will love that, although be sure to wash your hands before touching them to set a good example. Cover the pot and let it all stew on low heat for as long as it takes to liquefy into a thick mixture.

Heat water in a separate pot to boil, add a tablespoon of olive oil, and salt to taste, then drop  the pasta of your choice into the boiling cauldron. The  olive oil will prevent the pasta from sticking. Then, cover the pot although its best to leave it slightly exposed to avoid all that frothy foam from spilling down the side of the pot into the flame. Quite a mess, and a common experience to the novice of pasta cooking. When you think its done, take one or two pieces of the linguine and throw it at the refrigerator. If it sticks to the door its ready to be served. If it bounces back, then your in an  alternate reality.

Pour the pasta and water in a strainer, then place a serving onto a plate. Using a large wooden spoon, fill each portion of linguine with lots of the red sauce and garnish with some oregano or parsley and grated parmigiana cheese. Serve with garlic French bread, some Vin Rouge and a mescaline salad with a mild vinaigrette dressing.

Optional: If meat is desired, balls of ground round can be added while the sauce is cooking over a slow flame. The meat can also be shaped in a cube for those who are feeling a bit creative and into diverse shapes.

Serves as many as you like depending on how much you make.

As they say in Northern Italy, Bon Appitit! In Southern Italy they would say something else.