it’s poetic, isn’t it? And I feel just a little bit prettier when I say them. Italian. As delicious to say as it is to eat. Which will be put to the test tomorrow when I cook up my busiata e gnoccoli for my famigia.
My amazing Italian friend just taught me to make two beautiful Sicilian pastas by hand this evening and in exchange, I taught her to make pancakes – half plain and half with chocolate chips which her daughter devoured. I also sent her away with maple syrup which she’d never tasted.
Doesn’t sound like a fair exchange, does it? Sicilian pasta versus pancakes? And pancake isn’t as fun to say unless you’re Italian and you can say it with just the hint of an e on the end that makes it sing. But she was as excited about the pancake as I was about the pasta.
So to 600 grams of durum semolina flour – a very fine pale yellow flour, we put in 1.5t of salt and probably a cup or so of water… kneaded it, then let it rest under a bowl for about 30 minutes. [At this time it would be appropriate to sit with a strong Italian espresso and some tiny round crunchy almond flavored Italian cookie whose name currently escapes me. It would also be an appropriate time to sip a large glass of aromatic Italian red wine.] We rolled it to 1/4″ thickness, cut strips, then rolled those strips thin. For the busiata, you place a skewer on one end of the pasta, then roll the skewer so that the pasta spirals onto it. Then you slide it off and you’re onto the next one. If you make gnoccoli, you take that same strip rolled thin, then quickly pinch down on the edges of it with your fingertips rolling it slightly towards you. Marilena could do this absolutely effortlessly pinching, tearing into smaller strips, setting aside, then starting over on another strand. I, on the other hand, couldn’t get mine to look remotely like hers. Not even close. So, busiata it will be at my house. If you want gnoccoli, go to Trapani. The pasta can be cooked right away in boiling water with a little salt and a little olive oil for 4 minutes, or you can dust it with flour so it doesn’t stick together and let it sit under a towel until the next day. She says it’s delicious with sautéed eggplant and fresh tomatoes. Mmmm.
On my Friday after a busy week, I was almost hoping that she couldn’t come and cook today, but now I feel lighter and refreshed. So much so that if I had more flour now, I’d spend the rest of the evening rolling out and twisting up tiny busiatas until my fingers ached. Spending time with Marilena is fun anyway. We laugh at silly words as we try to communicate. She speaks English well and the words she doesn’t know, I can usually figure out via Spanish. And every Italian word I have to repeat a few times, savoring slowly each syllable and slight inflection like a connoisseur would taste a fine wine.
Next time I will learn to make arancini which, I’m sure will taste just like they sound – delicious balls of rice stuffed with meats, ragus, or spinach, then fried. Can’t be bad. Nothing she makes is bad. Marilena owned and ran a pasta shop when she lived in Italy. She can do anything!
Oooh, oooh…. and today… I went to Aachen with a friend and enjoyed a fabulously relaxing non-obligatory day when I didn’t really have to do anything and tossed any sort of must buy or must see lists that I would normally have in hand when going to Aachen. I only knew I must sit and infuse myself with Starbucks- the coffee and the comfy chairs. So I had a triple Venti caramel latte non-fat, with whip… and it was good, though a bit sweet. It’s been too long. I used to rattle off tongue twister coffee orders with pride. Every specification had a place and the rattling of those words were in cadence – almost poetic in its own caffeinated way.
ANYWAY… that is where Holly pointed out our oddest visual of the day: A beautiful raspberry marbled cheesecake looking thing sitting, all by its lonesome, on a large dingy black cart – you know those big carts that you would use in a Costco to move heavy boxes? Yep. One big cart and one cheesecake. May be the cart is for the one who eats the cake.
Oh… that, and the wind-up sushi that I was oh-so-tempted to buy for Kirk just for a chuckle. I thought, how funny. I’ll make up some sushi and then let this little one roll right off his plate.
The high for the day aside from the coffee and the delicious gruenkohl mit mettwurst I had for lunch, was finding a pair of jeans that not only fit, but were also on sale. Yippee! And, to watch a woman go from absolute stony coldness to slightly friendly and almost warm just by switching my words from English to German was really quite funny and sadly typical. Still… I got jeans, a cultural oddity, and a half-smile all in one store!
Found a really cool French table at an equally cool Dutch chocolate shop – the Chocolate Company – where I again managed to salivate over everything and not buy one eensie weensie item. Am I nuts? Yeah! This is just not right. Next time, I’m buying chocolate… and may be one of those cookie cream things with the raspberries on top and a ring of marzipan holding it all together… mmmm…
You’d have photos, but I forgot the camera. :( Left it at the school on Wednesday after a yearbook meeting and there it sits. Now I have to go an entire weekend without a camera… don’t know if I can make it… withdrawal is imminent.