I am very fortunate to have wonderful next door neighbors. When I first bought my house, Rosie was first to say hello. Over the years I have lived here, I have reveled in the beauty of her garden, admired her exquisitely crocheted Christmas ornaments, delighted in the joy of her grandchildren during their annual Easter Egg hunt in the garden and enjoyed her authentic Italian cooking.
And when I say authentic, I mean it! For Rosie came to America from Calabria in the southern "boot" of Italy when she married Frank years ago. So, when Rick asked Rosie if he could have a lesson in pasta making, she was only to happy to oblige!
The lesson happened to coincide with the visit of Giorgio Mirto, a classical guitarist from Torino in northern Italy, who was performing concerts in America and staying with Rick while in Michigan. The timing was perfect, because Giorgio could speak a little Italian during his visit -- something he couldn't do with Rick and me!
We gathered around Rosie's table. She has a portable board she uses when making pasta to both give her room for the rolling (no pasta machine here!) and make clean-up easier. All this begins with flour on the board. Maybe a cup. All of her measurements are by eye -- until it feels right! A little salt goes into the pile and then she makes a "well" in the middle, into which she places an egg.
Then it's mixing by hand, adding water a bit at a time as she goes along.
I have to say, this reminded me of making flour paste as a kid. It isn't neat and your hands aren't either!
But eventually, the mixture comes together and she begins to knead it as you would bread, adding flour as necessary. It becomes very dough-like and smooth.
Then comes the rolling. Using a dowel about the size of a broomstick -- no larger -- she rolls the pasta into a very thin layer -- thinner than the thinnest sugar cookie recipe. (Do you get the word "thin" here?!)
When the pasta is smooth and as thin as it can be, Rosie rolled it gently over her "rolling pin," much as you would roll a pie crust over a rolling pin and unroll it on a pie tin.
Then she slides the dowel out, so that there is a long, thin "snake" of dough. (If the dough is too wet, it will stick to the dowel and needs more flour and re-rolling.)
Using a sharp knife, she cut very thin strips from the roll.
And voila! Pasta!
Now, you might think that we would simply have pasta for dinner after all that. You would be wrong! Rosie and Frank make their on soprosetta and proscuito and other sausages.
So, we not only had Rosie's homemade pasta with sauce, but a selection of cheese and meats.
This was followed by a mushroom and beef dish, Frank's very good homemade wine, a cherry liqueur, fruit and nuts and a fabulous lemon cake! And Rick's bread!
Did I mention the wine? It was flowing! Giorgio checked it out!
And then was kind enough to share with the rest of us!
It isn't often that I sit down for a dinner and find it hard to leave the table!But this time it was difficult on so many levels. Not only was it a fabulous dinner, prepared in the kitchen by hand and with love...
...but the company was so delightful I didn't want the evening to end. So now I'm wondering -- when will Rick start making his own pasta too?
Soon, I hope!
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