27 January 2014

Pasta - Part I: An Introduction

Dear readers, you might be in for a long haul on this one.  One of the good things about being a picky eater is that on top of avoiding a bunch of really disgusting foods, you will likely become really passionate about the food you do like.  Pasta is one such food for me, and you guys, I really love pasta. 

Probably more than any other food type, pasta has remained the most reliable across time.  I’ve made similar statements about rice and potatoes—both of which are major staples in my diet—but neither have proven to be as consistently delicious or trustworthy throughout my life has pasta has been.  When we would go out for dinner to a restaurant when I was younger, plain pasta with butter was almost always not only a viable option, but one that I took extreme relish in.  There has only been one exception at the Sheraton Hotel in Spokane in which I didn’t get the pasta dish I expected (I touched on it briefly in a Dear Food Thoughtz post), but I see no reason for rehashing that one particular anomaly again here.  As I grew older and as my tastes evolved into the perfected and crystalline state they are today, I began to experiment first with plain tomato sauce and later with bolognese.  Actually, now that I think of it, there was a second incident in which I accidentally ordered a pesto lasagna not realizing what it was, but I take full responsibility for that mistake, and because it was a lasagna, it’s beyond the scope of my present purposes.
You know, I’ve always thought that the Catholic belief in transubstantiation was a bit farfetched, but I’ll be damned if pasta doesn’t transform into something divine when cooked.  Is there a more convenient food on this earth?!  It can be stored forever in its dry form,* but boils into perfectly soft and starchy entity in a short period of time (much shorter than rice, which shares the same storage benefits, although for some reason I always think a mouse will get in there).

  Its quick prep time and long shelf life make it perfect for round-the-clock feasts.  For whatever reason, I have a really hard time measuring pasta quantity, but it ultimately doesn't matter because if you cook too much you'll eat it anyway because it's delicious, and if you cook too little it only takes about 5 minutes to make another batch.

Another great benefit to pasta is that the possibilities of different pasta shapes is limited only by man’s imagination.  To help alleviate the pressure of choosing the best pasta shape, I have compiled a non-exhaustive list of some of my favourites (as well as some of my least favourites), followed by a brief brand sampling and some of the ways that contemporary health crazes have sought to degrade this noble food.  This post has been divided into three parts because it ended up being approximately 4,000 words.

*Here's a fun fact about me.  When I took the Food Safe course offered at Selkirk College in Grand Forks, I scored about 99% on the exam.  The instructor went over the exams and explained any of the questions that people got wrong.  And then she came to the one question that I got wrong, which was a multiple choice question about what food poses the greatest risk when raw.  The possible answers were things like meat, vegetables, fruit, whatever.  But pasta was also an option, and it was the option I selected.  My reasoning was that everyone knows that raw meat can be dangerous, but no one would suspect it from pasta.  So I actually selected pasta, and I got it wrong.  The instructor wasn't even willing to go over that question for the class because she assumed someone had just accidentally circled the wrong answer. 

No comments:

Post a Comment