When you think of Italy, what comes to mind? Wine, art, romance, pizza, and pasta, of course. This makes the fact of pasta, potentially, not originating in Italy all that much more surprising. It’s much more likely a descendant of Asian noodles that were brought over by Marco Polo in the 13th century. Now there is over three hundred and fifty different varieties of pasta from common spaghetti noodles, to rigatoni, to lasagna (Yes, even that divider between the meat and cottage cheese is, technically, what lasagna is not the whole dish. I was surprised too).
Pasta, much like rice, is easy to cook. Which may have attributed to its overall popularity throughout the ages. I mean, risotto is delicious, and I love a calzone; but I’m busy, and not everyone can be Chef Gordon Ramses. Some of us are incredibly limited in our skills in the kitchen, as it is. Not to mention, it’s cheap and easy to make from scratch; it’s filling and makes for great leftovers. The best part of it all, is that no matter the dish, just about, any form of pasta’s three hundred and fifty descendants will work for any recipe.
Would you like some chicken alfredo? Try it fusilli. Want spaghetti and meatballs? Try using linguini instead of the traditional noodles. There really is no rule book or law of pasta; anything goes. If you’re like myself, pasta can be core ingredient to about sixty percent of your culinary skills. I’m not a very good cook; but even I can take some macaroni, boil it, add butter and cheese and eat heartily for about two days.
Come to think of it, just about all Italian cuisine is what makes up the majority, most peoples, leftovers. Including, the grandfather of all Italian cuisine, pizza. And, of course, I can talk about the bruschetta salads, the chicken parmesans, tiramisus. I’ve become particularly fond of gelato, as of late. But, we can all agree; there’s nothing much like staying in one night after the hustle and bustle of a work day and enjoy a nice pasta dinner, with some wine and someone special to share it with. Something easy and enjoyable after a long day. Like it did over seven hundred years ago, pasta has ingrained itself into our American culture. Whatever our background, we can all, and often do, enjoy this small piece of Italy.