“Life is a mixture of magic – and pasta,” the Italian movie director Federico Fellini as soon as mentioned. And if, like me, you’re a faithful pastaphile, you’ll virtually actually agree with Fellini’s worldview.
For one thing so quite simple – at its base, pasta consists of simply two, generally three, components: at all times water and flour created from 100% durum wheat; whereas egg might be added to make a richer pasta. It has spawned a myriad of recipes, starting from the simple to the frilly.
Every area of Italy has its personal speciality, with recipes and combos of pasta and sauces handed down via generations, but in addition open to interpretation. Whereas there could also be no official rules, in the end, the perfect pasta dish is no matter tastes most scrumptious.
Nonetheless, we Britons have kind relating to amending, and even utterly reinventing, foodstuffs from different international locations. Rooster tikka masala, for instance, doesn’t, strictly, hail from India; it began life, legend has it, in a curry home in Glasgow.
Equally, the perennially common schoolkids’ teatime fare, spaghetti bolognese is just not an formally recognised Italian dish however is rumoured to have been created both by Italians who got here to the UK after the second world conflict or by southern Italians who emigrated to the US early within the twentieth century. In Italy, and most significantly within the foodie metropolis of Bologna, in Emilia-Romagna, after which this impostor of a dish is known as, its existence is handled with bafflement, if not downright outrage. Why? As a result of no Italian value their parmesan would ever consider serving this reasonably cumbersome, meaty sauce with a pasta that it couldn’t cling on to.
The casual rules governing Italian pasta and sauces fluctuate by area, however a great rule of thumb is that this: the chunkier the sauce, the chunkier the pasta ought to be, whereas lighter, extra delicate and thinner sauces are higher suited to thinner shapes. What horrifies the Italians a lot about our spag bol is that we stubbornly imagine that it’s completely fantastic to eat a dish the place every mouthful of pasta is barely coated. Utter sacrilege! Pasta shapes, you must be taught, are not interchangeable, and the important thing to creating the perfect meal with it at house is realizing what combos work greatest.
Right here to assist is considered one of Italy’s oldest and best-loved pasta producers, Barilla, with a heritage that stretches again to the late nineteenth century when Pietro Barilla opened a bread and pasta store in Parma in 1877. The corporate has stayed virtually solely within the household since then and is at the moment run by the fourth era, so custom and authenticity are of key significance.
“On the core of our enterprise is our intention to deliver to the world joyful, healthful and sincere meals, impressed by the Italian way of life and the Mediterranean food regimen,” says Alberto Costella, export advertising and gross sales supervisor, Barilla Group. “We work day by day to construct on that legacy and being household owned provides an additional degree of dedication.”
Whereas it’s mentioned there are someplace between 300 and 600 pasta shapes in existence, Barilla itself produces greater than 160 styles and sizes, all packaged in these iconic blue cardboard bins (the color dates again to a time when blue paper was the most cost effective to purchase and used to wrap meals).
If a form is made in a sure a part of Italy, then it’s greater than probably the sauce shall be created from one thing grown in the identical space; for instance, Liguria is famend for its basil, which is used to make pesto, and goes greatest with Ligurian pasta shapes comparable to linguine or trenette, that are each lengthy and skinny.
Let’s briefly get again to that bolognese sauce – in Bologna, there’s a recipe for one thing known as ragu alla bolognese, which, at first look, may not appear dissimilar to our personal spag bol, because it’s made with minced beef, tomato puree and greens together with carrots and celery; however the distinction is that there, it’s truly served with tagliatelle, medium-wide ribbons that may take a heavier sauce. One other Emilia-Romagnan speciality, tortellini, is a crammed pasta normally served in a lightweight broth or sauce as there’s already quite a bit happening inside it. Confused? Don’t be. Keep on with the rule of thumb and also you received’t go far unsuitable, then experiment and get inventive as a lot as you want in your individual kitchen.
Time to speak bigger-bodied shapes: rigatoni, tortiglioni, penne, fusilli … pastas comparable to these have a bigger floor space, and, typically, ridges that basically assist the sauce to stay. You’ll discover rigatoni dishes in Sicily, the place one of many classics is pasta alla norma: this scrumptious sauce consists of chunks of fried or roasted aubergine, tomatoes, garlic and grated ricotta salata cheese.
Fancy one thing creamy? How about comforting pasta alla norcina, which originates from Umbria, and combines penne with native pork sausage, cream, dry white wine and pecorino; or tacky tortiglioni al forno, common in Naples and Calabria (although most areas have their very own model) – a considerable, tasty pasta bake to which you’ll add something from do-it-yourself meatballs to mushrooms, relying in your preferences. Simply make certain it’s smothered in mozzarella.
If all this has bought your mouth watering, you could find extra inspiration at Academia Barilla, Barilla’s personal gastronomic centre of experience, which has a wide range of recipes starting from the extra easy (comparable to penne arrabbiata) to the gourmand (comparable to pennette with pumpkin cream, porcini mushrooms and balsamic vinegar), together with on-line tutorials and methods.
Now man cannot, in fact, reside by pasta alone (sadly), however even when he did, it’s a nutritious foodstuff and one which makes up a part of the much-lauded Mediterranean food regimen with all its well being advantages. However we’ll go away you with the phrases of the inimitable Sophia Loren, who as soon as mentioned: “I’d a lot reasonably eat pasta and drink wine than be a dimension zero.” Meals for thought, certainly.