The entire game began one (seemingly ordinary) evening when I promised my friend that I’d treat him to pasta- Pasta that I cook!
Me, kitchen and cooking are galaxies apart!!My culinary skills have always been subject to a lot of public jokes and insults! Somehow, that one evening I decided that I am going to disprove my friend by 'making' the best ever pasta! Later that night, when the thrill of the challenge evaporated, it left behind a sensible thought that for somebody who didn’t know that ABC’s of cooking, pasta making was like aspiring to do a PHD!!! However, I took reassurance from the fact that my friend has a fabulously ever-failing memory and I trusted him to forget that I’d made such a promise!! But fate decided otherwise, and he just wouldn’t forget the ‘pasta promise’!!! Every time this issue was brought up, I promised myself that one fine day am going to make the best ever pasta and make this guy feel a pinch of guilt for all the fun he’s making of my culinary skills!
After months of procrastination, I decided that, today is going to be my pasta day and am going to go through this ordeal, no matter what!! I walked to the supermarket close to home to pick pasta and sauces, and to my surprise and mild shock I found that the shop had several varieties of pasta displayed...spaghetti, macaroni, and fettuccine!!!! The supervisor was as clueless about pasta making as I was! I walked back home, determined to come back to the supermarket as a fully informed ‘pasta-consumer’!!
My amma (who has tried all possible creative ways to orient me to the art of cooking and given up on me! ) was surprised when I asked her if she could teach me to make pasta! She said, she has never made pasta all her life! She offered to teach cooking sambhar and rasam instead! Sambhar and rasam aren’t exactly a substitute for pasta! Are they?
I decided to do a review of literature and read up all I could about pastas and pasta making. I went online and pulled lot a whole lot of recipes, checked out pictures of pasta , to understand the shapes, sizes and varieties.( After about an hour of internet research on pasta) It was then clear to me that, the sauces too should be freshly prepared in order to get authentic Italian flavour pasta! (To me, all that it meant was, that it involved another half an hour of cooking!!!!)
Settling down with a novel, reading by myself was certainly a better thing to do on a Saturday morning than try to make pastas! I weeded that thought out of my mind by watching videos on ‘you tube’. I viewed videos of the entire pasta making process!! Meanwhile, I got in touch with an aunty who makes delicious pastas and got her recipe too! My brother, who is like a born-cook gave me a few tips and tricks to making decent pasta! The entire household was watching me in action, surprised by my sudden display of this culinary passion! I collated the results of review of literature, compared recipes and drew out a plan for my pasta party! I called it the PPP (read Pasta Party Plan)!! Armed with all the ‘gyaan’ and the perfectly drawn out PPP, I walked confidently into the store and picked up all the stuff I needed to make pasta!
Next on my agenda in the PPP was to invite people who would get the honour of tasting my pasta! I called over two of my good friends to do the tasting of my first ever culinary experiment with pasta! Now that, all the ingredients were ready and my guests were also ready, all I needed to do was to cook!! My Patti who had been a passive observer to the entire happenings since morning suddenly sprang up to life and said she would help me make pasta! She taught me to cut vegetables (that took so long that, I decided that if I ever have to start cooking on my own, I would definitely gift myself a good vegetable cutter!!!! ) Grating cheese took longer than that!!
(finally!!) this was done and I boiled the macaroni....... I carefully read through the recipe and made the white sauce!! And then....... I busied myself with pasta making! Everything went according to the PPP and in about an hour’s time, I was done with the pasta!!!! A heavenly smell of pasta filled the entire place and the smell of grated cheese melting in the warmth of the pasta added the final touch of excellence to the pasta! The 5 hour long ordeal came to an end!!
My faithful friends turned up on time and I opened the bowl to serve the pasta. (I had chosen a beautiful white ceramic bowl to put the pasta in, just so that it looks like those pictures shown on the internet!!!!) Everything seemed perfect till I put the ladle into the bowl to serve them!! The pasta was acting crazy! It seemed to have gotten together into lumps!! And it looked nothing close to those pictures shown on the internet, and nothing close to how it looked on the ‘you tube’ video! I hid the horror of the discovery with a big smile and served the pasta! The first few minutes seemed like those moments when you anxiously sit in front of the computer, waiting for exam results!
I watched the both of them as they tasted my pasta! They opened their mouth (and I let a sigh of relief that the pasta wasn’t that sticky after all!!) and said that, the pasta was brilliant! The more truthful one among the two admitted that the consistency was bad and that the next time I make it, it has to have less water! The both of them unanimously agreed that the taste however was fantastic and so, the fact that the pasta didn’t look like pasta can be overlooked!!! The happiness that stemmed out of the success of phase one of PPP filled my heart.... as the pasta filled our stomach!
The success of phase one of PPP has motivated me to move on to phase two! I am sitting with the phone in one hand, and a list of numbers in the other! I am in the process of inviting more people to participate in my pasta tasting session! According to my ‘PPP’, in about a week’s time, I should collect valuable feedback about my pastas and perfect the art of pasta making!!Very soon ,I would launch my pasta party and invite that one friend of mine, who has been instrumental in making the PPP happen!!
Coming to think of it, I don’t know if am making great pastas, but I seem to make my amma happy that I have started doing ‘something’ in the name of cooking, I seem to have found a nice reason to have friends dropping in and out of my home!! This ordeal doesn’t as bad as it seemed in the beginning you know! So.... the next time you feel like having ‘good’ pasta, you know where to stop!! Don’t you?! ;-)