We had our last lesson of Italian cooking today (tear). Everyday we prepared at least one, and usually many, really incredible dishes. These past two weeks also marked the point where most of my classmates realized their pants are fitting more tightly (myself included). This is the sign of food so delicious that you can’t help yourself from taking a second, maybe a third helping. I justify the weight by telling myself I will never be in this situation again where I can taste such a broad range of wonderful gourmet cuisine. All part of the learning experience right? Keep in mind calories and fat content are paid no mind in culinary school. The focus is technique, flavor, and presentation. Before things get out of hand, however, I will have to up my gym routine.
After these two weeks, I have concluded that if forced to eat one country’s cuisine for the rest of my life, that country would be Italy. No question. It is the origin of so many of my favorite foods. Pizza (southern Italian style), pesto sauce, tomato sauce, eggplant, extra virgin olive oil, fresh mozzarella, and baked pastas. Oh, did I mention my love of gelato – fresh Italian style only please (which you can find at a wonderful little place called Cones in the West Village here in NYC).
I have also decided that pasta is the most versatile food around. It can be tossed with anything, served at any meal, and eaten at any temperature. Really. Can you think of any ingredient that pasta won’t pair with? You maybe thinking fruits or chocolate… but I saw Giada on the Food Network yesterday make a fettuccine with roasted winter fruits and chocolate shavings on top for a dessert. And haven’t you ever heard of a pasta fritatta? That’s right, pasta for breakfast, its delicious. Seriously I’m not making this up.
I can imagine carb-fearing people who are reading this and shaking their heads. But pasta is not what makes anyone fat. It is the portionof pasta and choice of toppings. In America we also have a habit of eating bread with a pasta meal. Italians usually do not do this. The pasta dish is only one component of a multi-course meal. All the other components are usually not carbohydrates, but proteins, vegetables, and fat. Vegetables do contribute some carbs, but not as much as grains.
There is much more to be said about the wonders of pasta and my love of Italian food, but I will leave that for future posts. For now, I am going to reheat my pasta fegola from class today and enjoy.