Friday, May 29, 2015

If the Pasta Fits

Papparadelle with fava bean sauce

“It's fascinating to travel around Italy and realize just how many different ways they make spaghetti.”    ~ Mario Batali

 Amen, Brother Mario.

Too often Americans (and others not of Italian descent) think of Italian food as spaghetti and meatballs.  Ouch. I'm sure that most of my cousins and friends of Italian descent would tell you that we ate pasta in a variety of ways.  There are probably more than 200 varieties of just pasta shapes, and with the different sauces, well, one could eat pasta everyday of the year and not have the same thing twice.

I thought I'd show you a few of the things we've had this week and tell you about them.  Most of these are from Rome. I'll catch you up on some of the others later in the trip.

The photo at the top of this post is a handmade and cut (with a knife) pappardelle pasta topped with a fava bean sauce.  Nonna Aida made the pasta, and her daughter, Amalia, made up the sauce. She cooked  down the fava beans, combined them with a little olive oil, a little (LITTLE) garlic, a little cooked guanciale, salt and pepper, and topped it with peccorino cheese.  That's it.  (Probably my favorite of the dishes.)

Spaghetti con caccio e pepe
Caccio e pepe is a Roman dish that has only three ingredients—pasta, peccorino cheese, and pepper.  It's easy to make as one only has to cook the pasta, drain most (but not all) of the water, and add cheese and pepper.  The reason you leave a little of the hot water is that it helps melt the cheese and bind it to the pasta.

Tagliatelle with porcini mushrooms
I didn't have this pasta, but it looked and smelled good. Tagliatelle is a flat pasta that can hold heavy sauces such as this one. The sauce was basically butter and mushroom, and large porcini mushrooms completed the dish.

Chitarra with grilled asparagus, cherry tomatoes, and peccorino cheese
I love the simple pastas, and we all had this one in Pacentro.  It is chitarra pasta (a square spaghetti cut by hand on a machine that resembles a guitar....more on that later) topped with grilled asparagus and cherry tomatoes.  Peccorino cheese finished the dish.

Gnochetti with salchiccia e ragu pomodoro
Gnocchetti are small, gnocchi-shaped pastas. A simple red sauce topped the pasta, and small pieces of sausage added to it.  Again, Peccorino cheese topped it.  Of all the dishes I tried, it was my least favorite because the sauce was not very good, and the pasta were not homemade.

By the way, most people think Italians all use parmesan cheese.  Nope.  In Lazio and Abruzzo, peccorino cheese is king.  I prefer it to parmesan (Don't tell my Bolognese friends.).

Anyone hungry?

PS... I updated the look of the blog... Hope you like it.

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