The “pinch and grab”: a chopstick-like motion with your pointer finger and thumb used to casually scoop-up penne or rigatoni from your plate or bowl. Pinch your fingers, grab the noodle, and ensure that the sauce sticks to the glutenous glob. My mother and I coined this name years ago to describe the not-so-elegant way I would eat pasta, as my over-excitement prevented me from actually picking up a fork and eating like a lady.
My love affair with pasta never really formed or had a start date: from the time I was born, even hearing the word sent me into a tailspin of provoked arousal. Luckily (and unluckily) for me, I grew up in New York- the second birthplace of pasta. Penne alla vodka, rigatoni bolognese, fettuccini alfredo, linguini with clam sauce- you name it, I ate it. Since maturing past the age of ‘having to have something every day’, I began to comprehend my rather unhealthy obsession and have since-forth cut back on eating it, limiting my ingestion to several times a year. It’s in the rare moments of untainted joy that we relish in the truest forms of something, for anticipation makes the heart grow fonder.
Some of my favorite moments are linked to the carb-ridden commodity, which perhaps played a large role in why I love it so much. As I’ve mentioned in several past posts, and will continue to mention- a good meal at a restaurant or a nice evening at home with family and loved ones is my idea of the perfect time and has consisted of some of my dearest memories. While my other middle-school classmates were attending “supervised” parties, my girlfriends and I would order in delivery Italian- the kind served in those round, silver disposable trays with the cardboard lid. We would watch movies and laugh our heads off about anything and everything; we didn’t need makeup, we didn’t need boys- we needed pasta and pleasantries.
Sleeping at my grandparents house automatically translated to ordering Italian food, individual art lessons from my Grandpa (I’ll get to him at a later date), and driving around New York doing whatever we so pleased, for a two-day span that felt like a happy forever. During one of our many sleepovers, my grandfather said, “I’ll pay you 100 dollars if you eat the whole dish”…. challenge accepted! To this day, I remember the details of the entire weekend like it was yesterday and it still ranks as one of my favorite memories.
I spent, and continue to spend, a lot of my free time with my parents; I actually prefer their company over most people my own age. For a majority of my childhood and adult years, we would set up blankets and plastic cutlery across the floor in my parents’ family room and eat take-away Italian food, sitting on the floor in our sweatpants, watching a great series, talking about travel or politics, or giggling about something. The conversations and television series may have oscillated, but I didn’t- I always ordered the delicious, sticky, hearty Italian treat, and I always had the greatest time.
It is in our favorite pastimes that we discover new links between people and items. For me, pasta always brought forth an incredible recollection of any sort. Whether in Italy or New York, pasta has had this sort of divine intervention over my life- bringing happiness, comfort and love wherever it appears. And, even in my older, healthier years, any excuse to dress in a nice set of clothes and sit in a beautiful, rustic Italian restaurant with my husband or family or friends, and enjoy a piping hot bowl, is bound to bring another great memory that I can etch in my emotional journal.
So pasta, I thank you for always providing comfort and calories in my life, and I hope others have their own food that evokes the same feeling for them, as pasta does for me, sheer joy.