I am passionate about pasta. In my very humble opinion, pasta is Italy’s preeminent contribution to the culinary world. The Italian food scholar Oretta Zanini De Vita wrote, “To me, this heritage is an Italian gift to gastronomic culture on a par with what the Florentine Renaissance gave to art.”
Pasta has sustained Italians for generations, even in the most impoverished areas of the peninsula. The prosperous North is home to the delicate egg-yolk rich “tajarin” of Piemonte and the meat-filled “tortellini” of Bologna while the struggling South nourished its peasants with “orecchiette” in Puglia and “sagne” in Abruzzo, made with only flour and water. While prosperous Northern Italians had the means to enjoy pasta as a “primo” between the “antipasto” and “secondo,” as a teenager, my father used to devour half a kilo of pasta for lunch every day because that’s all his family could afford. (I often wonder how many pounds of pasta I’ll need to cook for my own family when my three boys are teenagers.)
When my husband and I were last in Florence, we dined at the acclaimed Trattoria Cibreo. Lauded for its creative spin on Tuscan cooking, the restaurant is also known for the chef’s intentional omission of pasta from his menu. Although we appreciated our dining experience, we couldn’t help feel as if something was missing among the elegant courses. After all, what is a truly great Italian meal without even an “assaggino” of pasta?
Please check out my Handmade Pasta Board on Pinterest for some of the various pasta variations I’ve made. http://pinterest.com/majellacooking/handmade-pasta/ (I’ll post a recipe next week.)