Server: What Base Would You Like Ma’am? Carbonara, Marinara, Aglio Olio, Alfredo, Bolognese?
Me: Err…Umm…I prefer Cheese. I want the one that’s white!
Server: And What Pasta would you prefer? Penne, Farfalle, Spaghetti, Fettucinne?
Me: Fettu….What? Get me any that goes with the white!!
Some fine dine meals can be Uphill and Laborious. You expected a laid back afternoon and voila! You have a labyrinth looking Menu staring you in the face. I mean who does that kind of background research before lunch. I would rather cook at home and look up a recipe from Masterchef Australia if I knew that much!
We are in India for Uparwala’s Sake! (Skipped ‘the God’ on purpose here) There are two ways of handling such kind of situations. You can swamp the server or the manager with gazillion questions on what, how and where? Or some listless soul (like me) would just rely on luck! Food is Food, How Worse Could It Get?
Lobster Pasta Lady wants to indulge in a little ‘pasta talk’ today. We belong to a land which is home to countless indigenous cuisines. Plus, we have had the honor of being exposed to International Culinary Creations thanks to Social media (take a bow); which has inadvertently laid down an open table with cuisines from all over the globe in a city like ours. As an unconscious cerebration, a little Pastaducation (Read Pasta Education) would do no harm. How about getting right back at those waiters there like,
“Get us one of your Roasted Squash, Shallot and Spinach with Ricotta Pasta”
Sounds totally Legit, doesn’t it?
Without further ado, for all those with a fervor for Italian food or more specifically Pasta. Here it is:
Rule 1: The Types
There must be more than a dozen types of pasta based on the shape that the Italians choose to name But, in India we are good to go – if we know a few of these.
- Macaroni – “Elbow”
Pronounced: [Mac as in Mac Book] [ar as in her] [oni as in pony]
The jack of all trades, easy accessibility at the grocery store, cheapest of the lot, and quite precisely mom’s favorite. The ultimate for the “Mac n Cheese” You can never go wrong with this one.
- Fettuccine – “Thick Ribbon”
Pronounced: [Fet as in Fete] [u as in fool] [ccine as in chini, hindi for sugar]
It is generally preferred with thick sauces or more with meat based pastas. I would just order this one to check if I got that name right!
- Farfalle – “Bow”
Pronounced: [Far as in Far] [falle as in saale, hindi for wife’s brother]
Call it the bow or the butterfly. Quite popular with restaurants -tasty and photogenic! (Don’t blame me for that pathetic pronunciation; I’m just being helpful)
- Fusilli – Spirals
Pronounced: [Fu as in Phew] [Silli as in silly (not the Punjabi)]
I call them the twisted ones. Until and unless you are really sure about the place you are dining at, this one can get risky. It’s one of those which if left uncooked, can give you twisted stomachs.
- Lasagna – Pasta Sheets
Pronounced: [La as in La] [Sa as in sa] [gna as in nia]
The “G” is silent. Forget it exists, absolutely useless. The atrocities of the English language aside, this type is one of my favorites. Long pasta sheets with meat or vegetables stuffed on the inside topped with cheese. Baked and Served.
- Penne – Quills or Feathers
Pronounced: [Pen as in Pen] [Ne as in Ne]
I know there is no big deal with that pronunciation but I didn’t want to break the tempo. The most typical form of pasta served. If you are lucky enough to find a non fancy server who just brings your orders without debates, its highly likely that you’re going to get penne on your plate.
- Ravioli – Pillows
Pronounced: [Rav as in Ravishing] [I as in E] [oli as in Holi]
My latest discovery and undoubtedly my current muse. Soft, handmade pasta parcels stuffed with fillings. For a change the pasta is not hollow. I have been experimenting with a lot of raviolis lately; will be sharing the experiences in my next post.
- Spaghetti – Noodle Like
Pronounced: [Spa as in Spud] [ghe as in ghe pretty straightforward] [tti as in tea]
Imagine your noodles in a non Chinese base. That’s pretty much your spaghetti. There is obviously some distinguishing feature that separates the noodle from the spaghetti but for now let’s leave that to the chefs. For me it’s always going to be the noodle like pasta, messy to handle. Always slippery and hard to pin down.
9. Risotto – Pasta or Rice?
Pronounced: [Ris as in Ris][otto as in auto]
This one can boggle your mind. Often included under the Pasta head on the menu, you might be a little disappointed when they serve you rice and no pasta at all. Risotto is typically a side dish enjoyed by Italians and other mediterranean cultures. It’s a creamy form of rice but not the asian genre that we generally consume. So, beware!
P.S – If my pronunciation help didn’t really help, then there is this Indian lady (on You Tube with an American Accent making all the ‘rhight’ (pun intended) sounds. Go get her!
Rule 2: The Sauce
Let the Truth Unfold. There’s more to the story than Just White, Red and Pink. Let’s have a quick look at the christened names of these Sauces:
- Alfredo :
The lost name for the White sauce pasta. It’s basically Parmesan cheese and butter. Thick, rich and creamy. If they serve you anything else in the name of Alfredo, sue them! Cheese lovers can take a hit blind-foldedly.
- Bolognese :
This is a meat based sauce and thick in texture. Historically, they used bacon but it can be prepared with any other kind of meat as well. The food world is an open ground for experimentation. Vegetarians might want to check twice for this one though.
- Aglio Olio :
I call it the ‘one that can’t be pronounced’ (Getting a little Voldemorty Here)
It’s the traditional ‘Garlic” and “Oil” recipe from Italy. It contains cheese but not enough to give you the feel or the look. It has a distinct flavor and some restaurants really serve it on point.
- Carbonara :
This is a dish of the Romans. The basic ingredient being eggs and pepper apart from cheese. Again, something preferred with the meat. Slightly heavy in texture and taste.
- Marinara :
Yes this is that “Red Sauce”. The one with all your tomatoes, herbs, garlic and onions. Tangy flavor and well suited for vegetarian or those who aren’t too fond of cheese!
- Pesto :
Pesto sauce has two key ingredients – pine nuts and basil. In a particular Italian lingual, pesto means to ‘crush’. So you have these crushed ingredients and other bits too to get this sauce. A different and distinct flavor from the rest.
Rule 3: The Blend
A good pairing of 1 and 2 can go a long way on your taste palates. Experimenting is always fun but a bad experience can ruin a relationship (if you know what I mean) and you wouldn’t want that with food, would you?
- Spaghetti Bolognese is the word. They are a match made in heaven.
- Spaghetti Aglio Olio comes second. A good one to settle for, if not the best.
- Say Alfredo – It could be Penne, Farfalle, Fusilli – Choose your mate.
- Macaroni n Cheese should be declared inseparable. Legally.
- Lasagna – Don’t get choosy. Every kind spells glory.
Also, I will be sharing my pasta experiences in the city very soon. Stay Glued.