My Kitchen Turned Pasta Factory
I would like to start off by saying that I am a pasta aficionado. Pasta is a masterful concoction. It is one carb that I simply cannot live without. I’m sure many partake in the same sentiment.
Quarantining gave us all a lot of time. Time to be home. Time to sit with ourselves. Time to want to take time off from taking time. And of course, time to get into cooking, because you have to eat.
Making homemade pasta was one of my quarantine pastimes. And what a joyous pastime it was. Aside from the flour explosion that needs tending to post pasta coma, it is a very fulfilling experience. It also gives you plenty of time to reflect on life, because of course, like all other quarantine pastimes, it keeps you busy for a while.
On one particular evening, I decided to experiment with four different pasta shapes. They all required different techniques and levels of patience. Of course, they also all provided me with a starchy life lesson.
You can make these little ribbons by hand or with a pasta machine. Both work well. First, I used my pasta machine to roll out the dough into a thin sheet. Next, I sprinkled flour over the thin sheet and put it through the pasta machine’s fettuccine cutter. And out came the fettuccine!
Of course, I did stumble upon some technical difficulties. First, my thin sheet was extremely long, so when I put it through the fettuccine cutter, the neverending strands of ribbons had no place to go but over each other. This caused some chaos, as the pasta began to stick together.
Flour was brought in, clumps were formed, things got messy.
In an effort to improvise a better solution, I straddled the strands over a rolling pin, balanced on two random kitchen objects. Success.
What’s the moral of the fettuccine story? Prepare a long-term plan before you go off and make something. Think about logistics, and have some backup tools just in case. Also, don’t give up before you have improvised. Get creative about solutions, and you’ll probably get something good out of it. If the fettuccine turned out good, so can whatever else.
Spaghetti: the plural of the Italian word spaghetto. That’s right, one strand of spaghetti is a spaghetto. Wonderful. This of course is the diminutive of the Italian word spago, meaning “cord” or “string”, which comes from the Late Latin word spacus.
Similar to the fettuccine, you can make yourself some spaghetti by either using the machine, or you can do it by hand, via the thinly slicing method. I used the machine, because it had a spaghetti cutter, and because I was getting hungry at this point.
I didn’t make much spaghetti. If the fettuccine was clumpy, the spaghetti was a clump. Naturally, I was not in the mood to do all the untangling, especially when I knew I had other shapes to make.
The moral of the spaghetti story? Sometimes in life, your mind can resemble clumpy spaghetti. While it may seem daunting at first, and you may not even want to think about pulling apart the spaghetto’s you have going on in there, try to. Sprinkle over a loving heap of flour and let the pieces loosen. In other words, get help, and then allow the mess to exist, but not overpower you. The next batch of spaghetti I made turned out much better, so stick with your mess. It will get better with practice and dedication.
The Italian word farfalla literally means butterfly, and its plural is farfalle. This pasta shape was different from the others in that each individual piece had to be hand-made. Needless to say, I had made myself a snack by this point and was sipping on some red wine.
In order to make this shape, you first roll out the dough in the pasta maker (or by hand) into a thin sheet (again). Next, you cut up the sheet into small rectangles, preferably without destroying the kitchen counter. Then comes the pinching; pulling the two sides together in a wave, creating a bow-tie shape. This process was a lot more therapeutic than the other two shapes, but let’s not forget that by this time was I drinking wine.
The moral of the farfalle story? Life can be as delicate and beautiful as a butterfly. No, really. The fact that each of the pieces of pasta I would eat and share were carefully handcrafted is beautiful. And that just goes to show that beauty is easier to find and to create than it seems. You just need to slow down and give things a pinch in the right direction.
For this special shape, you simply roll up your dough into a long string — akin to the way you used to play with PlayDough (if you did). Then, you cut the string into roughly 5cm pieces, so you have little worms to work with. Next, you need some sort of a rod or skewer. A pencil will also work (but please wash it, and don’t use the tip). Finally, wrap the little dough worm around the rod, and then GENTLY remove it. You should be left with a little spiral of joy.
The moral of the fusilli story? Sometimes, life spirals. That’s just the way it goes. At this point, I was so tired and hungry, that I didn’t even know what I wanted anymore. But I was determined to finish what I had started. So folks, stick with it. The end reward was delicious. And life can be delicious too.
The Ultimate Pasta Life Lesson
Never, ever, ever, underestimate the power of pasta. It will comfort you and it will challenge you. Roll up your sleeves, get in the flour, get creative, and of course, always enjoy what you eat! Food is life!
If you enjoyed this food journey, check out my other article on bread making, also brought to you by quarantining.