But I’ll be happy to make you a quick dish of pasta.
There. This is what an Italian will offer you if you look hungry, tired or depressed.
Because, really, what’s the big deal, if you’re home, own a stove, and there is some kind of pasta around?
I was watching a fiction on RAI, and one of the characters – a single man who has to fend for himself – is putting together a measly meal of canned tuna, crackers and the like. His housekeeper drops in, and her eyes pop out of her head at the sight: the man is eating a COLD meal for pranzo?! She immediately takes control of the unacceptable situation, setting aside her cleaning kit, and heading straight to the kitchen. “I will make you some quick spaghetti with oil, garlic and a handful of pomodorini (tiny cherry tomatoes grown in the Naples area),” she announces, not accepting no for an answer and directing the poor lonely gentleman to sit down and read the paper while she makes him a proper hot meal.
And so it is in real life.
It is unlikely that someone will offer to make you a sandwich, because is that a meal?
Growing up in Italy, I don’t ever remember a day when we did not have pasta. At home, I mean, my own or someone else’s (because, of course, a Sunday day trip would often end up happily in a local pizzeria). This is a notion that is naturally passed on to each generation, without a need to even mention it. Just follow tradition. So much so that, when, at the age of seventeen, I was left in charge of my younger siblings, for a few days, while my parents traveled to Modena to see my grandfather who was hospitalized, I immediately started making meal plans by first checking what kind of dry pasta we had around. Now, one of my favorite foods was (and still is!) prosciutto crudo, so I already had in mind to buy a good 200 grams, and serve it with some fresh from the bakery bread forpranzo. As a second course. Because that’s all that it could be. First course? A quick tomato sauce with basil, over a very small amount of pasta, just enough for a satisfying plateful that would insure that we had areal meal. A contorno of vegetables for the side, or a salad? Well, those could surely be skipped for once. But the pasta needed to be present in its place of honor.
And simple it is, my friends. Only a few ingredients, best if fresh (and most of us have around a little pot with basil, during the summer), and you can produce magic in the kitchen.
Yes, I’ll make you a little pasta if you’re hungry. Because a sandwich just doesn’t cut it.
Look through my recipes on the website, for several sauces for pasta. (More coming up in my cookbook, of course).