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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Pasta, Pasta, Pasta, part 2

(copyright, 2005.2006.2007. Maria Liberati)

Still winding down from my appearances at the National Italian American Foundation Gala ( and the Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival with Morimoto, Guy Fieri and Robert Irvine and yes.. we will be posting some photos as promised.

But as promised here is the second installment on the history of pasta som of my pasta secrets.... shh! don't tell anyone)

When pasta was in its infant stage, the manufacture of the dried variety was a daunting task. In fact, the word ‘macaroni’ is derived from the Sicilian word for making dough in a forceful manner. The process, which could take an entire day, involved a pasta maker kneading the dough with his feet. Clearly not the most hygienic or desirable way to go about preparing food, the King of Naples, Ferdinand II, was the first to publicly disapprove of this method of production. In an effort to fix the problem, he hired a famous engineer, Cesare Spadaccini, whose task was to come up with a machine to replace the footwork. Spadaccini successfully devised a bronze machine that did just that, after boiling water was added to newly-ground flour. Once invented, this machine allowed Naples to become Italy’s pasta center.
Innovations continued, however, and in 1740 the first pasta factory was opened in Venice by Paolo Adami. The modest apparatus consisted of an iron press that was operated by hand. In 1763, a 10 year monopoly of the pasta business was granted in the city of Parma by the Duke, Don Ferdinando of Bourbon. The Duke granted this monopoly to Stefano Lucciardi of Sarzana, which allowed him sole production rights of “Genoa-style” (dried) pasta.

Before these innovations, pasta had already begun its introduction to the rest of the world by making its rounds on traveling ships in the 14th and 15th centuries. It could be easily stored without spoiling, and thus was an ideal choice for these long voyages. Pasta’s other attributes include versatility and abundance, which earned it a place in the daily diet of Italians by the 17th century.

Here are my secret tips for cooking pasta that is "molto delizioso"! If you need pasta recipes to try out these tips go to my website or my bestselling book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking. You will find many there!!
The Basic art of Italian Cooking Past Secrets:

*Pasta is best served in a round or oval serving dish. Put only a small amount of sauce on it, then place some extra sauce in a serving dish.

*If you must boil water for pasta quickly- subdivide the water into two pots and when they are both boiling, place together in one. Boil first the water without salt- then salted water next.

*If during the cooking of the pasta you find out that the pasta is too salty tasting. You can fix this in one of two ways-
if pasta is not totally cooked- boil another pot of plain unsalted water. Drain pasta and place in unsalted water for remaining time.
*If pasta is cooked to al dente- drain the pasta but place under hot running water in colander.

*If you taste pasta during cooking and find out that you have not salted enough- then right before draining pasta add a handful of fine salt and take to a full rolling boil for a few seconds before draining.
Next week, let's find out about a most important milestone in the history of pasta, the introduction of pasta with tomatoes..Ahh my favorite combination!!
Ciao for now!!
Don't forget that if you purchase The Basic Art of Italian Cooking on the website you save $5 off retia lprice and portions of the proceeds go to Gilda's Club.

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