making pasta

Italian from scratch

January 4, 2021

  Carol got me a pasta maker for Christmas. I know what you’re thinking, but it’s not at all like giving your wife a vacuum cleaner or a clothes washer. I wanted one. During the year, I had expressed an interest in making homemade pasta for the fun of it. I had also expressed an interest in playing the ukulele for the fun of it, and she gave me one of those as well. Carol said she had filed these expressions of interest of mine away in a corner of her brain during the course of the year. She seemed quite pleased with herself for her attentiveness. I didn’t want to spoil her mood, so I kept it to myself that I sometimes express these interests when I’m trying to clean out a corner of my own brain where idle and fruitless impulses lie. (Sometimes, when I listen to Beach Boys songs, I get the urge to want to surf. I’m glad I’ve kept that one to myself.)

my first attempt at pasta making

   There’s no doubt, however, Carol will rue the day she got me that ukulele. (I may be getting as big as Izzy Kamalkawiwo’ole thanks to the pandemic and the holidays, but I will never play the uke like him.) The pasta maker, though, has some “pastabilities.” I made my first batch yesterday. The angel hair looked like something made of white plastic had melted into a lump on the stove, but the regular spaghetti actually looked a little like spaghetti. More importantly, it did not have the texture and flavor of homemade Elmer’s glue, and I concluded my first effort a success.

Needless to say, the counter where I’d constructed my flour dam looked like the Johnstown Flood the moment my watery mix hit it

   Curiously, the pasta maker did not come with either assembly or use instructions, as if the manufacturer assumed only first generation Italian grandmothers would be receiving such a device. I definitely would have benefitted from written instructions, especially as it related to dough preparation. The standard method calls for a kind of circular flour dam to be created into the middle of which you add the eggs and oil. The recipe in the pasta maker booklet provided for three tablespoons of water added to the eggs. No other dough recipe Carol later found on the Internet called for water. Needless to say, the counter where I’d constructed my flour dam looked like the Johnstown Flood the moment my watery mix hit it. Overall, the kitchen soon looked like a downtown terrorist attack using enriched bleached flour, and the pasta maker may prove yet another Christmas gift Carol will come to regret.

   But it does mean I’ve come full circle in being able to make a spaghetti dinner from scratch, beginning with sauce, meatballs and now the pasta. (I baked bread recently, and can add homemade garlic bread to complete my Italian culinary transitioning. I can now choose to gender express myself as…well, an American doofus making spaghetti and meatballs, since I Googled, and learned nobody in Italy makes spaghetti and meatballs. (They also  mostly buy their bread at a panetteria.)

   I’m also working hard on my ukulele. I’m beginning to hear strains that Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head is starting to sound less like Bob Dylan’s Rainy Day Women #12 & 35.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *