Home > Books, Food, Newspapers > I Don’t Know Pasta

I Don’t Know Pasta

October 14, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments


The lead article in the food section of today’s NYT has the aggressive title, “So You Think You Know Pasta.” There are a lot of subjects that I like to think I know a little bit about, but it turns out that pasta isn’t one of them. I didn’t know pasta existed when I was young. I knew about spaghetti. I didn’t eat it, but I knew about it. And then I knew there was fettucini alfredo. My father would order a half portion as an appetizer at a nearby restaurant. And I suppose I knew about lasagna, though I don’t think I understood that underneath the top layer of cheese was some sort of noodle. Oh, speaking of noodles, I knew about the noodles in Campbell’s chicken noodle soup. Loved them. Pasta? Nope.

That was then. This is now. And now, of course, I know more. Ziti. Penne. Rotini. Farfalle. Rotelle. Bucatini. Tortellini. Tortelloni. Vermicelli. Capellini. Yup. Know ’em all. Still, I’m not the pasta maven, so I figured the article’s headline must be speaking to someone else. And I knew for sure that it was once I read the opening words: “Oretta Zanini de Vita.” I sure hadn’t heard of any of them. They sound good though. I was going to tell Gail we should try some oretta, or maybe the zanini. The top half of the page has a large color picture of various pastas, so I was wondering if the oretta was pictured.

Then came a comma, suggesting I had parsed the partial sentence incorrectly, followed by a few more words confirming that indeed I had. Alas. The full first sentence of the article reads as follows: “ORETTA ZANINI DE VITA, the pre-eminent Italian food historian, seems to have a tool for every pasta: a centuries-old ravioli cutter, a wooden stamp that mints pasta like coins, a chitarra for creating thick strands of tagliatelle.”

So I don’t get to eat oretta or zanini after all. Oh well. It would have helped if those first four words weren’t all in upper case. Seeing Oreta Zanini De Vita might have saved me from my foolish error. Then again, maybe I should have been familiar with her already, through her Encyclopedia of Pasta. I wonder if we own it.

Categories: Books, Food, Newspapers
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