The other day my girlfriend and I were in the supermarket buying dinner. We wanted some nice, fresh pasta, but all we found was old, tired pasta. The fresh pasta looked so unpleasant that we chose instead to eat the dried, shrivelled pasta we knew was in the kitchen at home. We made a reasonably pleasant meal out of it, but it got me thinking.
How hard is to to make your own pasta? I discussed the idea with my girlfriend as we ate the dried, shrivelled pasta and drank our wine, and she agreed that it probably wasn’t all that difficult. I decided to make my own pasta.
After dinner, with a full stomach, I forgot all about making my own pasta and sat down to check my emails and then play with my Kindle. An hour later, when it was time to check my emails, I was surprised to find that, unlike all the others times I’d checked my emails, I had an email. It was from my girlfriend from the sofa, and it was a recipe she had found for cooking your own pasta. The recipe went like this:
1. Mix the eggs and flour and water into dough.
2. Flatten the dough and cut it into strips.
3. Boil it.
My girlfriend must not have been as satisfied with the dried, shrivelled pasta as I had been. The next day, we returned to the supermarket to buy all the ingredients we still needed. We bought a box of eggs.
Back in the kitchen, I set to work preparing the dough. I checked the instructions and rechecked them, then I threw the ingredients together and kneaded them to a sticky, messy consistency. My ear became itchy and I couldn’t scratch it because my fingers were covered in sticky dough. I thought about using my knuckle, but it was also covered in sticky dough and probably too big to fit inside my ear. I decided to test it later when the knuckle wasn’t covered in sticky dough. I grabbed a handful of flour and dried the dough on my fingers with it, then scraped away most of it and washed my hands under water. When they were clean and dry my ear was no longer itchy. I went back to work. With the rolling pin, I rolled the dough out until it took up the entire chopping board.
I cut it in half and rolled again. Then I rolled it up on itself and used the egg slicer to slice the pasta into thin strands.
It was a disaster. The wire from an egg slicer is not sharp enough to cut dough, and is blunt enough to flatten it into a useless lump. It did, however, give me an idea. I re-rolled the dough and pressed down lightly with the egg slicer. This time, I had a series of guides to follow with the knife. I used the blue knife, which I believe is called the pasta cutting knife. Once cut into strands, I unrolled each strand and put it back in the bowl. I resisted the urge to taste it. Then I got to work on the second half of the dough. The second half turned out better than the first half.
Once cut, I dumped the pasta into a pot of boiling water for a couple of minutes and served it up with pesto. Before we began the homemade pasta experiment, we agreed to use store-bought pesto, because more than one experiment a day would stress us out.
Normally, when you cook something new, it’s okay the first time and then gets better each time you make it. We were prepared for that. We knew our pasta would not be as good as fresh store-bought pasta, possibly not even as good as the old, tired pasta we had turned our noses up at the day before, but we weren’t prepared for what did happen.
The pasta was great first time. It tasted fantastic and it looked fantastic (kinda), which goes to show that making homemade pasta really is easy, and fun, and messy, and it takes at least an hour.
So the next time you consider spending a lot of money on fresh pasta, remember how easy it is to do it yourself, and walk out of the store felling as smug as I do every time I now think of buying pasta.
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