Nothing to me says Italian food like pasta. Unlike other infamous Italian foods like pizza and tomato sauce, which have a fairly recent history, pasta may indeed have a much older pedigree going back hundreds if not thousands of years.
I was once told that the Venetian merchant, Marco Polo brought back pasta from his journeys in China in 1295. So I did a little research and found out there are evidences of Italian recipe books from earlier years containing references to pasta dishes. Since China is an ancient civilization, with a complex culture dating back thousands of years, it's likely that pasta existed in China very early.
Right, so we now know pasta did not arrive in Italy courtesy of Marco Polo. And let's just stop here. I am not a food historian and instead I want to focus more on pasta as a staple ingredient in my kitchen and in my family.
I have been eating pasta for as long as I can remember. Pasta is one of the ingredients in my mom's chicken soup recipe. My sisters and I loved this soup. With so many different kinds of shape and flavours of pasta available these days, it isn't difficult to be creative when deciding upon a dish. So if you think pasta as only spaghetti or macaroni, I'm telling you, you are missing out!
Pasta is just a great neutral starch on which to combine flavours and ingredients. It can be warming and comforting when the days are cool, and light and fresh tasting when the temperatures rise. It's a perfect accompaniment for fresh seasonal vegetables, and an inexpensive way to stretch a little bit of costly ingredients such as sea food or exotic mushrooms to feed a group. Many pasta dishes are all-in-one meal that is simple to make. Many of my pasta recipes can be assembled in the time it takes to bring the water to a boil and cook the pasta. Some pasta recipes can also be made ahead of time and reheated or served at room temperature.
I have always considered pasta as one of the great pleasures of the table. For casual get-together, I know there's nothing more satisfying (and economical) to set on the table than a big bowl piled high with pasta. Everyone can serve themselves as much as they want, and it can either be a side dish or as a main course.
So, yesterday I made Jool's favourite Saturday afternoon pasta for an army of friends, coming over to watch the X-Factor. I have some favourites now. I hope they'll make it to the top 24 tonight.
Yes, I've made pasta with tuna and tomato sauce before, but Jamie's addition of a teaspoon of ground cinnamon made all the difference. The cinnamon did not over power any of the flavours, but just a little extra something at the background. We all loved it and Jool's favourite Saturday afternoon pasta is now officially my favourite for Saturday evening.
For dessert, I made A rather pleasing carrot cake with lime mascarpone icing which was very pleasing. Moist carrot cake + citrus = Yum!
Going back to pasta, I must say whatever its true origins and history, one thing is sure. Pasta is here to stay.
Day 27, Recipe 17