Monday, August 30, 2010


I’ve always enjoyed Italian food, especially pasta. Even small unassuming restaurants with candle-topped old Chianti bottles on red checkered tablecloths have pleased me. I love the aromas. The parmesan cheese, the Mediterranean herbs and the fragrant sauces all arouse the appetite. And I love the music, whether it’s opera or simple mandolin music. But most of all I love the food.

Italian pasta dishes are revered for their bright, sunny richness and imaginative flair. Considering that there are hundreds of pasta shapes in use, imagination has really worked, because most people will tell you that spaghettini tastes different than mostaccioli. Many of these shapes have been paired with specific sauces, thus becoming classic dishes.

An appropriate sauce is generally determined by the shape, and more specifically, the lightness or heaviness of the shape. That’s why thick pasta like rigatoni or ziti pairs well with highly flavored sauces such as ragu Bolognese, while a more delicate sauce suits vermicelli more optimally.

There are four basic Classic Italian pasta sauces.

1. Butter Sauces

The most famous perhaps, would be Fettuccine Alfredo, a popular dish from Rome. Fettuccine is called tagliatelle everywhere else in Italy. Other classic butter sauces would include pancetta (Italian bacon) which can make a lovely spaghetti alla carbonara, and the superb fresh white truffle, called tartufi bianchi.

2. Olive Oil sauces

Coupled with garlic, the simplicity of aglio e olio is well appreciated. Spaghetti with smothered onions and Penne with cauliflower, garlic and oil are also beloved.

3. Tomato Sauces

Three particular tomato sauces fundamental to pasta are perennially popular.

· Butter and tomatoes and carrot. No garlic or olive oil.
· Marinara sauce, primarily employing tomatoes and garlic.
· Ragu Bolognese, which is made with beef and pork, plus the aromatic onion, celery and carrot.

4. Pesto

This incomparable sauce from Genoa makes good use of all that fresh basil
growing in your garden. Basil and olive oil go together like: (your favorite
simile here.)

So immerse yourself in any of these delectable sauces. They will thrill your
soul and delight your taste buds. As my beloved wife says: “Mangia

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