If you like pasta, there is nothing better than going through an Italian super market. I was walking through the isles of the grocery store in Florence, Italy with my Italian mother and we came to the pasta section. As I looked at the choices with amazement, I asked her WHY with ALL the pasta choices she ONLY used spaghetti or penne pasta when we were growing up. She didn’t have a clear answer, she just kept dinner simple.
My mother was not a typical Italian cook. We did not have ravioli or tortellini. NO — it was always spaghetti with bolognese sauce. Nothing wrong with that mind you, but when I went to another Italian’s house for lunch or dinner it was totally different from my house. My Italian girlfriend would cook with different pasta shapes and add vegetables to her pastas.
Lasagna was different too. My mother made lasagne with béchamel sauce, while my friend made hers with ricotta cheese. If you’ve ever had lasagne with béchamel sauce you can NEVER eat it with ricotta cheese again — it just tastes wrong! My opinion, of course.
As I continued on with my mother, we stopped by the produce section to find some tomatoes. Well, I had to smile… they had all kinds of tomatoes to choose from in big bins and our shopping adventure would not have been complete if we had not bought our parmesan cheese!
I think I was especially happy to see all the pasta, because in America the latest diet trend is “no pasta,” “no rice,” etc. and here I was in Italy, my Italian heritage, seeing all this pasta and thinking it’s not necessary to give up pasta completely. Clearly, I was missing my “Italian heritage.”
So, here’s to exploring new recipes and going “beyond” the spaghetti style noodles! Changing your noodle shape does change the taste of your pasta. AND REMEMBER, the pasta MUST be “al dente.” This trip, I have to say, the pasta was almost “too” al dente. I imagined the cook with his chef hat crooked trying to get pasta out as fast as possible!
Buon appetito (translation: Enjoy your meal)!