517 words on Food
I had pasta the other day.
Ah, interesting Mr. Sven, you're only matching millions of other people there. All right, let's start again, then:
I consider pasta a really nice dish. Very simple. Very satisfying. And easy to make. Nothing like well cooked pasta with a good pesto, which sometimes is hard to get hold of. Or like spaghetti carbonara. Or that creamy broccoli and roasted almods sauce we made up in our first term. Or the fancy parma ham, rucola and parmesan stuff that has been popular recently. You can have everything you like. Even bolognese.
And all of them can be good. They can also be bad and that's what I want to talk about. While pasta is a perfectly simple dish with gazillions of possibilities, many things can go wrong. At first, of course
al dente comes to mind. Overcook your pasta and you lose. Similarly, the 'crunchy' aspect of undercooked pasta isn't good. Another rule, which is obvious on second thought but which I nonetheless had to lean from my Italian friend Rita is that the sauce should always be ready and wait for the pasta to finish cooking. You can then put the pasta straight into the sauce and serve everything readily and perfectly mixed and hot.
But there was one more thing: The pasta themselves. Rita always recommended 'nice' pasta. Her favourite was some brand that's sold in yellow paper bags and is very nice but five times the price of OK pasta. She'd bring those from Italy. Otherwise we used De Cecco (which is yellow and bluely packaged), the pasta which I continued to buy after moving back to Göttingen. It's a bit more expensive than the average, but still bearably so. Barilla is OK but not good. (And, according to Rita, Buitoni – yellow and red – is not. But they're out of question anyway as they are owned by Nestlé.)
So much for the theory that had been indoctrinated into me. And as you trust your friends, I never really challenged it and tried whether there really was a difference between the recommendations and the really cheap stuff... until this week. My flatmates must have done some careless pasta shopping (I try do direct them appropriately when we shop together, but I can't be everywhere all the time – and besides people don't like going shopping with me because of that), so we ended up with some pasta unknown to me. Italian pasta still, not German 'noodles' with eggs in them, but unknown territory, still.
When I opened the pack, things already felt strange. The spaghetti where very shiny, rather than the slightly dull look they have usually. They also felt a bit different in elasticity or so. Hm, this might just go away when they're cooking. It did, for sure, but what came out of the pot was not a slimy mess but very short of it. No, I didn't overcook, the spaghetti themselves just were more slippery than they usually are. Not an enjoyable feeling in the mouth, sadly. I wonder what makes the big difference.
I’m a pasta fan too. I eat various forms of pasta with pesto at least three times a week. It’s my default lunch :-).
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