An ode to pasta

Catherine's picture

According to Washington Post yesterday, the sales of dried pasta has fallen 6 percent since 2009. The trend is the same all over the western world, even in Italy where the sales of pasta has plummeted by more than 25 percent. There’s mainly two reasons, gluten and carbs. Anti-carb diets have banned pasta as something evil.

When I was a kid, I was probably the only one who didn’t like to eat macaroni and cheese… or for that matter any other type of pasta. The reason could be traced back to my childhood summers in Italy. I don’t remember that much from it, except the food. We stayed at this family owned seaside resort, run by the matriarch of the family.

I remember her as a large, loud and generously warm older woman. She had the firm belief that no meal was complete without pasta, and by that I mean NO meal. We ate pasta for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I can still remember the taste and smell of her breakfast pasta soup, far away from my usual cornflakes and milk. I think my father was the one who handled the situation best. He gladly ate his pasta soup with coffee, toast and bacon. My mother looked like she never wanted to see a bowl of pasta again and it took her forty years before she started to enjoy a nice pasta dish.

So when I grew up I only ate pasta if I had to; it took some time before my mother realized that I didn’t really enjoy mac and cheese, especially since she made it because she believed that I liked it. My Grandma thought that pasta should be cooked in milk and that one didn’t enter my list of favorites either.

I was in my mid-twenties when I started to eat pasta again. I was back in Italy, but this time I traveled for work in the Milano area. I found a totally different kind of pasta. I can still remember a five course lunch in the mountains outside Turin. The pasta was al-dente, cooked to perfection. A soup that was rich in texture and taste. Pasta blended with fried fresh vegetable like tomatoes and asparagus. Large raviolis filled with cheese and topped with truffles. It was pasta in a way that I never seen before.

Today we eat pasta at least twice a week. It’s a versatile food that can be packed with flavors. Of course I make the traditional ones like mac and cheese, Carbonara and Bolognaise, but not that often. I always return to the style of pasta that I found in the mountains outside Turin; less sauce and a lot of fresh veggies.

It’s sad that such a nice ingredient is declining. I don’t believe in diets, I believe in balance and modesty. I don’t believe in removing things like pasta, butter or full fat milk from our diet. I believe that a lot of today’s problems come from chemicals and additives in our food, and not from the food itself. So let’s continue to eat pasta, though not every day and especially not every meal.

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