National Pasta Day

In honor of National Pasta Day we would like to share with you some of John’s childhood memories of pasta making.

My mom was the one who controlled all things “Pasta” in our childhood households in Eritrea, Italy and the USA. On special occasions, we kids could request any pasta we wanted … ravioli, macaroni, spaghetti, pappardelle, etc. Of course, we had to be involved in the making of it and so we would assemble in the kitchen and under Mama’s direction, we would use bed sheets to cover the kitchen table, the counters, the coffee table, the beds and every other surface which might be used to lay the pasta out to dry. We each had a lump of dough to transform into that pasta. We had to knead and knead and then knead again, then cut it to rough form and hand it over to Mama for approval. She would then shape and cut the dough into various shapes of pasta and we would spread it out on the beds, tables and so on until it was ready to be stored or cooked.

My great- great grandfather, who was reputedly a tall large man for those days, operated a flour mill in a tiny town named Molino di Cuosa which of course meant the mill at Cuosa located between Lucca and Pisa outside of Florence. His nickname was ‘Farfallone,’ which means ‘Big Butterfly.’ He earned it because, from time to time during the day, he would emerge from the heat and dust of the mill and knock the flour off himself – creating great white clouds which looked like butterfly wings.

Here’s how I was taught to prepare this simple, quite divine food.

What you’ll need:
4 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
1 tablespoon milk
½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 ½ cups of 00 (double zero) pasta flour, plus extra for kneading

What you do:
Blend the ingredients together, either by hand or in a mixer, and then begin to knead the dough by hand. When you think it’s completely and entirely mixed, blended and homogenized, knead it for as long again. And when you’ve done that, knead it some more. You simply cannot knead it too much and, anyway, it’s a wonderfully soothing and comforting task.

So, knead the pasta until it’s as silky as you can get it, then knead it some more. During the process, you might want to rest (if you’re working hard enough) and sip a little wine. That’s the time to let the pasta rest, too, which allows the gluten to relax and to absorb the flour more completely. Now, with all the kneading and resting complete, you can roll the pasta out and it will be so at peace that it won’t snap back. It will be ready to be transformed into whichever pasta type you intend to use.