There is religion in food; we can worship the gastronomic experience. Our daily pasta is like our daily bread. We’ve all eaten that special warm delicious dish of pasta and thought, “Oh thank you God!” Voltaire said, “Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity.”
The true trick to cooking is to do it with passion and love. When you use your hands to make food, you pass on the love from your hands to the food. It is the best way I know how to give my love to my family and friends.
I think of spaghetti like little ribbons that tie our families together in the kitchen. Pasta is more than just a food; it is something we all love. It nourishes, satisfies, and comforts us from the inside. Just the sound of boiling water is music to my ears; and the fact that it makes my family so happy is the best feeling.
I laugh at myself when my friend asks me what we’re having for dinner because the answer is almost always, “pasta!” My family eats pasta almost every day! It’s so versatile and such a crowd pleaser. Why not?
My husband Derek grew up in Rhode Island and lived next to a Sicilian family. He was having dinner over there one night and he cut his pasta! Gasp!! The father yelled in his Italian accent, “NEVER cut your pasta, always twirl!” He will always remember that and it’s funny to see him teaching our children to twirl their spaghetti so they don’t commit the sin of cutting pasta! I’m sure our children will be mindful of their Daddy’s story each time they twirl their pasta in the future.
My daughter and I recently had fun playing in the kitchen making pasta together. When you mix the flour and eggs together it can feel a bit like play-doh. This was fun entertainment and a time when it was okay for her to play with her food. Zooey was completely mesmerized when we started rolling out the dough; and then when we turned the pasta into spaghetti her eyes got big and a huge grin appeared on her face.
When you don’t make pasta by hand and want to try a good Italian brand, I recommend Benedetto Cavalieri. You can get it at William Sonoma or Amazon. My pantry is stocked with Barilla; it’s reasonably priced, comes in lots of different kinds of pastas, and you can always find it.
Reading is a fun way to introduce children to foods. Learning about pasta through a story can make the experience more memorable when you make it with your child. Tomie de Paola’s Strega Nona is a favorite story of mine about pasta that I love to read to my children and my sec
ond graders. Strega Nona (Grandma Witch) has a magic pasta pot and she tells Big Anthony not to touch it when she leaves. Well, he gives it a try and floods the house and town with pasta. Another story I love is Rita Golden Gelman’s More Spaghetti I say, Minnie says to her monkey friend Freddie, “I can’t play with you, can’t you see? I’m eating spaghetti!” In both of these stories, the pasta is the star.
Needing some fun summer entertainment? Try making your own pasta. I’ll bet you will see what I mean about finding the love you can share by using your hands to make the food you enjoy.
3 ¾ C (00 pasta flour) plus more for kneading
Drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
Place flour in a mound on a wooden surface and make a well to break the eggs into. Add a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Beat eggs with a fork. Pull flour from the sides of the mound into the eggs. Form a ball and start kneading the dough. Push it down and away from you. Repeat until the dough no longer feels sticky and has a smooth surface. Let rest for 30 minutes at room temperature. Cut into 4 pieces to do in segments. Using your pasta machine, roll it out starting with the lowest setting. Top with your favorite sauce or pesto.
Go on; put the water on to boil! It’s time for your daily pasta. Buon Appetito!
See recipe for Ashley’s pesto here: pesto