Sunday, September 03, 2006

mailin' it in yet again

sorry, sorry -- just havin' some trouble connecting to blogger today --
it seems like they have been having a lot of blogspot troubes again
since they moved the beta into wider circulation or something.

so once again i must apologize for the non-formatting of this mail-in
post. and at the same time i'll dread it when they finally convert the
system to the new format. . . who knows what will happen to everything
here then?

but on to our core subjects. yesterday it poured cats, dogs, and wild
hyenas with the remains of hurricane ernesto here, which i why i stayed
indoors and played with new forms of flour products.

today dawned bright-n-boo-di-fal however, so i made pizza dough as
usual. so it's not as if i spend all my days lounging about chewing el
rey apamate 73.5% bars and watching episodes of "danger man."

but a girl has to got to kill time somehow until her new macbook pro
arrives, hmm? again this being a long holiday weekend, i then did a nice
bit of viniyoga at home while the dough rose.

in short, an average bccy-kinda day, exactly the thing all readers have
come to expect, down to the batdorf dancing goat cappuccini.

i will however answer one emailed question i received today here because
it might be useful to those googling in the future.

yesterday i noted the tendency of cookbooks and recipes to make easy
things seem hard and to skip the really hard parts altogether. this is
certainly true when it comes to hand-made pasta.

it requires a little bit of feel, and a tiny amount of practice -- but
c'mon, it's not like you're making one of those superhydrated naturally
leavened poilane-style loaves that takes 5 days or anything, you know?

it doesn't require rigging up a wacky lab appartus as long-time bccy pal
m.b. at quiltr did to nurse her yeastie boiz along as she started her
own bread culture. it's just eggs-n-flour vs. a monster rolling pin.

i've looked at quite a few italian cookbooks now, classics all, and
almost to a t they make hand-made pasta seem like rocket science (or
building a lotus seven in your kitchen).

i won't give the instructions here now. but i will point you all to what
i think is the best (and most encouraging!) explanation: carlo
middione's food of southern italy.

which is of course ironic, since in the south italians mostly eat dried
commercial pasta. but there it is.

this book came out in 1987, which means you can easily find it around
used for a good price. i think i paid US$5 for my perfect remaindered

what marcella hazan takes12 pages to try to describe -- in a manner i'm
sure that has convinced millions they can't do it -- carlo does in 3.

most importantly, carlo is sure you can do it too. "you must have good
coordination," he writes humorously, "so if you can rub your belly and
pat your head at the same time, you should have no trouble."

i've read many blogs where newbie pasta makes complain about not being
able to get the hang of the "trick." this is because their heads have
been wired into hazan's complexity (and they lack pasta boards of the
right size!).

carlo has a much better attitude: "don't be compulsive." "if the dough
comes out the shape of the state of texas," he says, instead of being a
fair rectangle or nice circle, "it may need some remedying, but
otherwise. . ."

when it comes to thinning the dough by stretching it, instead of
describing it as some difficult operation, as several books do, carlos
takes care to call it "the fun part."

and he notes that "it's much more difficult to explain than to do." with
which i agree, only if you're not carlo middione, because he then
proceeds to give a clear explanation in just 2 paragraphs.

in short, if you're a would-be pasta maker, buy marcella's book for the
sauce recipes, look at her pastamaking pics, then put her book away and
place your trust in carlo. that's my practical advice.

posted by fortune | 9:10 PM | top | link to this | email this: | links to this post | | 4 comments

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