Sunday, January 10, 2010

Mama Mia

I have such happy childhood memories of pasta. My neighbours growing up were Italian and one of my earliest memories was being left at Rosa's house when my mother went into labour with my sister. Rosa hardly spoke any English at the time, a few words here and there, mostly commands. She had three children and we were all close in age: the twins a year older than me, and the youngest my age, minus a couple months.

I distinctly remember Rosa feeding me. My indignant three year old self was quite annoyed as I was allowed to feed myself at home. To add further insult to injury, she allowed her youngest (same age as me) to feed herself. I couldn't quite understand why she felt the need to personally feed me when her youngest went unassisted. Perhaps it was because I was the guest, but more likely than not, it probably had something to do with me being the scrawny neighbour kid with the long skinny legs. I am sure she felt my scrawniness was some fault of my parents, rather than a combination of genetics and spending hours running around outdoors like a wild banshee.

So there I sat as she spoon fed me saying "mangi, mangi" or something of the like. The trouble was I have always been a slow eater. Rosa continued shoveling one spoonful into my mouth after another. I simply could not chew and swallow fast enough and eventually had such a full mouth that I had to spit it out or risk choking to out it all came much to Rosa's chagrin and dissatisfaction. The irony, even at three, did not allude me. Had she simply let me feed myself, as I was quite capable (at least in my mind) of doing, none of that would have happened. But despite that minor blip, I did love Rosa's cooking, especially her pasta. She usually made spaghettini which not only tasted delicious, but each mouthful felt incredibly luscious and deeply satisfying as it made it's way down my throat and into my stomach.

Lately I've been having a craving for homemade pasta, so yesterday was the day. I'd forgotten how easy it is to make and how much better fresh pasta tastes than the stuff bought at the grocery store. The recipe below is for a small batch. I'd recommend doubling it depending how many you're hoping to feed.

Basic Pasta

1 C durum semolina
1 egg
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp water (if and as needed)

Put all ingredients in a food processor. For this batch, I added some fresh cilantro (just because I had some in my fridge that needed to be used), some basil and some fresh ground pepper. Be creative, add what you wish. Basil is my favorite, but you can add a variety of other herbs and spices or even vegetables to flavour the pasta as you wish: oregano, nutmeg, spinach, grated lemon peel, poppy seeds.

Once the dough is well mixed, put it through your pasta maker. I just have a little hand crank one, but it works well for small batches. You could also roll it out thin with a rolling pin and slice with a knife. I've known many to make noodles this way and then hang to dry if not using right away. Of course nothing beats them fresh.


Pamela said...

I killed my food processor this fall. It was dying for old age already - but I dropped it and ended its misery.

I think I'll try that recipe whenever I get around to making a new purchase.

Rowena... said...

Loved that you shared this, as it reminds me of the days when I was actually handfed because my grandmother wanted to get all of us kids out of the kitchen without too much fuss and mess. She fed us like clock work, and after the meal/snack was done, it was kitchen closed!

we're doomed said...

You are right Carla. Fresh pasta is the best. Fresh pasta should be on everyone's bucket list.

Blue Bunny said...

i luvs nootles!!

Jannie Funster said...

But could Rosa make cowboy sculptures out of that spaghettini, that's what I'd like to know!?!

Mone said...

I have to admit that I never ever have made fresh pasta myself. But someday I'll give it a try.

Carla said...

Pamela, sometimes that's the most humane way.

Rowena, Oh, the kitchen should never be closed. But yes, I too, remember times like that.

Carla said...

We're Doomed, And plenty of times at that.

Blue Bunny, Me too, they be just the best!

Carla said...

Jannie, Ooh, that's a tough one. I'd better see if I can track her down.

Mone, You should. It's quite easy and very good.

Anonymous said...

How often we remember the misfortunes of childhood and yet retain tastebuds of nostalgia.