Some years ago I saw a documentary film about student life around the world. The students lived in various establishments, had different hobbies and hairstyles. But there was one thing that united them: pasta! In every nook and corner of the planet, the younger generation is nurtured by it. It is economic and effortless to make, and it fills the belly. In Italy it may be served as the first course of a dinner but, for the kids, it is the dinner. In fact, it often is the breakfast, lunch and dinner!
There are countless types of pasta for sale. None of them competes with the home made one. The taste of grain dominates fresh pasta. It is soft, round and comforting. It doesn’t have to be soaked in a spicy sauce as a shy decoration. It has a strong character. Once you try it, there is no return to the mass produced one. A conveyor belt won’t ever replace a human touch, even in making pasta! Most likely there isn’t a jolly Italian mamma pushing a slab of dough through the machine.
To make pasta from scratch is simple. The dough can be made in advance and stored in the fridge. A small family doesn’t need a pasta-maker. To roll and cut two to four portions by hand is a small and fun task. Feeling the grains on the fingertips makes us rooted in the moment we live. It is an experience of now. What a transient resource at this day and age!
Italians may be strict about making pasta from durum wheat flour and semolina, but the rest of us can relax. We may use wholegrain spelt or wheat, rye, buckwheat, millet, chickpea flour or combinations of them. As long as the dough is pliable, it will be fine. There is no limit to creativity regarding the shapes or lengths of pasta. The only important point to remember is not to overcook it. Those of us who always thought al dente means to give a call to a dentist; it is time to shift the paradigm. It means firm to the bite. Or, something like that :-)!
Thanks.A new feature on the blog: by clicking the recipe it will open as a printable document.