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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
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Pocketmags Digital Magazines

Vero Italiano SOLO PASTA

this instalment of his series uncovering the secrets of Italian food, Mario Matassa turns his attention to the nation’s obsession with pasta. Read on for a lesson in how you can make the perfect fresh egg pasta too.

Someone once asked me if it was possible to say that a food is simpatico. This is not a word that translates easily from Italian. It is usually used to mean that a person is nice, congenial, friendly, though something essential is lost in translation. You wouldn’t use it to describe food, but it would go some way in beginning to explain the Italian nation’s love affair with pasta.

A friend suggested to me that being simpatico is like an embrace. So a simpatico food would be one that embraces you; a food for all occasions; a food that can be elegant, simple, rustic or contemporary; a quick meal for the family, or for that special occasion; a food that makes the very best of seasonal variations, warm and comforting on a cold winter’s evening, light and revitalizing on a warm summer’s afternoon; a food that can be as inexpensive or as expensive as you choose; one that can stretch the creative imagination to the limits, or that can be prepared as simply as boiling a kettle and grating a little cheese. Have you ever met anyone who has not cooked a plate of pasta? From children to students, home-cooks to Michelin-starred chefs, it’s quite simply universal. In other words, it’s simpatico!

It should come as no surprise to hear that we Italians eat more pasta than any other nation in the world. The International Pasta Organization estimated that Italians eat on average 28kg of pasta per person per year. To put that into perspective, the average person in the UK consumes a mere 2.5kg. Broken down, the figure of 28kg per year translates as approximately 80g of pasta per person, per day, 365 days of the year. So the figures suggest that the average Italian really does eat a bowl of pasta every day!

THERE’S NO SUBSTITUTE FOR FRESH

Knowing how to make fresh pasta is a basic survival skill here. There’s no place in an Italian kitchen for anyone who does not know how to make pasta – it’s that fundamental. Outside of Italy, cooks often shy away from the challenge of making pasta, opting instead for the convenience of so-called fresh pasta from the supermarket. To be honest, it’s not something any self-respecting Emilian cook would consider an acceptable alternative. It’s just not the same. Plus, it’s really not difficult to make your own.

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About Italia!

Whether you’re planning an imminent adventure or settling down for some armchair travel, we’ve plenty of travel inspiration this month. Come with us on a weekend in Milan, exploring the familiar and the unexpected, and on a visit to Franciacorta near Lake Iseo, where vineyards are producing champagne method wines to rival the very best. We also take an in-depth look at life in Le Marche, a captivating region of central Italy that really is rather a hidden secret.