Saturday, September 6, 2008

Pasta, Basta!

Homemade pasta has a certain allure for me. It sounds so homey, yet decidedly sexy. In Italy, I have had fresh made pasta so good as to induce moans of delight. But as for my own homemade pasta... well, let's just say that it doesn't deliver the way my homemade pizza can.

While I feel I have earned the right to brag about my pizza, my pasta is sorely lacking. Tonight was no exception. It's probably been a year since I made pasta from scratch, and perhaps that's part of the problem. I was optimistic going in, however, following a Jamie Oliver recipe for ravioli filled with potato, pecorino, and mint. The frustration doesn't kick in until I am rolling out the dough. I would like to blame this on my rolling pin (and honestly, I do think that this is part of the problem), but it seems impossible for me to roll the dough thin enough. After twenty minutes of rolling, throwing all the upper body strength I can muster into it, I decide that enough is enough, and surely this oddly amoeba-like stretch of dough, thinner than any pie crust, is as thin as it's going to get.

I then attempt to fill the ravioli as soon as possible, before the pasta dries. This proves no easy task, as I struggle to complete the second batch, the dough too dry, in a matter of mere minutes, to bind together around the filling. The first batch has gone into the boiling water, but they look nothing like the uniform, bite-sized ravioli one finds in the supermarket. These are grossly deformed, giant blobs of dough, more closely resembling an alien species of anemic jellyfish than any packaged, pre-fabricated and perfectly pleated pasta.

When I remove them from the pot, they are flabby and misshapen, and a knife is a necessity when sawing through the thick layer of pasta surrounding the precious filling. The filling, by the way, is quite good, as is the melted butter, pecorino, and scattering of mint over the top. But the pasta itself, the shining star in any Italian primo, is here unremarkable except for its unusual, and not exactly appealing, chewiness. Still, I manage to eat five of them, whcih, considering their size, is no light dinner.

I may just have to break down and buy a pasta machine one of these days after all.

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