Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Flat is Fabulous

My husband is a pastaholic. I think if it were up to him, we'd have it practically every day (with an occasional break for mashed potatoes or rice). I like pasta too, don't get me wrong, but I'm a bit picky about it. If I only ate pasta once a month, it would be fine. Apart from the eight-course pasta tasting menu at Babbo, and one seafood and pasta combination eaten at Harry Caray's in Chicago many years ago--possibly more memorable for the company than the actual food--it's probably safe to say that I never order pasta when we eat out. (Why, when it can be made so deliciously and easily at home?)

Speaking of cooking at home, I'll eat his favorite spaghetti, or shaped pasta like farfalle and the various tubes, but I don't enjoy it as much as when we have flat pasta. (My favorite dish at Babbo was the black tagliatelle swimming in butter with roasted corn.) I've decided that overall, dried pappardelle is my favorite (followed by tagliatelle, fettuccine, and linguine, in that order). I love the sensuous quality of biting into the swath of slightly firm and perfect smoothness. And to my jaded tastebuds, the flavor of the pasta itself, uncomplicated by ridges, ruffles, or fancified turnings, is best appreciated in flat form. Pappardelle requires only the barest of saucing--perhaps some butter and a healthy dose of freshly grated parmesan. I also like it with chunky meat sauces in the form of a nice bolognese, or a creamy sauce studded with small nuggets of sausage. In contrast, spaghetti, or another of its vermiform brethren, is merely the vehicle by which I ingest ladles-full of flavorful tomato sauce.

Perhaps my preference for the flat comes from my childhood, when wide and flat egg noodles were de rigeur for Grandma's rosol z kury (Polish chicken soup) that I ate on nearly a weekly basis. Sometimes I insisted on a bowlful of noodles with butter instead of soup (I can't even really look at chicken soup any more, much lest ingest it). Regardless, when I eat pasta today, I want it flat.

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