Our April’s Dharmag will be all focused on pasta: one of the symbols of the Italian cuisine, the element that distinguishes more sharply the way we prepare and eat food.
Pasta is a generic term that refers to a mixture of flour and water, but we know that there is pasta and Pasta. Fresh pasta and dried pasta, stuffed pasta like Tortelli with spinach and ricotta and simple fettuccine.
Just think about how many faces a lasagna could have: from Naples, alla Bolognese, from Abruzzo. But also gnocchi are pasta, in fact they are the progenitors of pasta as we know it today, so get ready because we have never “baked” so many recipes in a single month!
Let’s start with the basics, the recipe of the fresh egg pasta from a great Italian Chef, once that you have mastered this technique you can start making every kind of pasta.
Pasta is old, already the ancient Egyptians used to prepare a simple dough with flour and water, but it’s with the Romans that witness to the birth of new pasta recipe, some of which are still now prepared.
Only in the Middle Ages with the flourishing of cookbooks, pasta becomes “common food”, even if it remains limited to the table of the lower classes.
For nobles and potentates, during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, pasta is an ancillary food, decorative, to embellish dishes with pasta nests or waterfalls or fountains sprouting roasted poultry and delicious fish.
Boccaccio offers us a very different representation of the Bengodi country: in this place there is a mountain of Parmesan cheese, and people’s employment is making ravioli and macaroons and then throwing them around and the more they take, the more pasta they make again.
But it is precisely during the Renaissance that pasta begins to transform itself into those that are the current recipes, thanks to the many Eastern influences, the use of spices, but also thank to the use of simple ingredients such as pumpkins, potatoes and chestnuts. And this pop and noble blend of ingredients and traditions makes the Italian cuisine so unique.
The most striking example is the tortelli alla Mantovana, with pumpkin and mostarda ( a kind of spicy chutney), a dish that combines the humility of pumpkins and the elegance of spices and mostarda: a jewel of the Renaissance cuisine that still delight our palates.
The beauty of pasta is its ability to adapt both to the environment and traditions: each region has at least one unique pasta dish to boast, an invention, a variant, a banner plant on the battlefield.