For those of you who don't know, I've recently been through a fairly major, and unexpected life change. While I think that in the end everything will work out for the best, to be frank, sometimes my external optimism is a bit forced. There are times that I get down, and some days it can be tough to act like nothing is bothering me. However, having a suddently large amount of free time on my hands also has some advantages. For me, food can carry some very strong memories associated with it, it can provide me a kind of psychic comfort that nothing else provides. Pasta is especially powerful for me. Some of my earliest memories are from my parents taking me to Modesto Lanzoni's in San Francisco's Ghiradelli Square (where the Sharper Image stands today). While I couldn't describe a single dish that I ate there during my childhood, all of my memories of that restaurant are warm and comforting. I remember the waitstaff being very friendly and accomodating to me, and the food being wonderful.
Pasta also reminds me of my late sister. I don't talk about my sister much unless you are someone that I really trust, even though she passed in 2000, it seems like yesterday. Thats not really germane to this post though. What is germane, is that my sister loved pasta like no one I've ever met. I enjoy pasta, and occasionally I love a good pasta dish, but my sister loved and craved pasta at a level that I just don't personally experience. It was always easy to figure out what my sister would eat when the family went out to dinner, whatever pasta was on the menu was what she would order. The only time that became complicated would be if we went to an Italian restaurant, then, all bets were off. While I really like good pasta, it seems that it is getting harder and harder to get good pasta when I go out, so I usually make pasta at home. However, once in a blue moon, I'll have a great plate of pasta and it always triggers fond memories of my sister. Usually I start to think about how I should turn her on to whatever I'm eating before reality sets in again, and I cherish those moments when I think of my sister that way.
Lastly, pasta reminds me of my wife and family. I find particular comfort in a plate of spaghetti cacio y pepe, the first thing I shared with my wife when we arrived in Rome. Cold, tired and hungry, it was the perfect introduction to the delights of Roman cooking and we must have eaten cacio y pepe every day when we were in Rome. Its also simple and delicious, all you need is good quality pasta, a pepper grinder and some cheese. When combined though, this pretty simple trio becomes something greater than the sum of its parts, in my opinion, perfection on a plate.
What kind of memories does pasta trigger for you? Do you have any family traditions involving pasta dishes or any special stories with pasta? If so, leave me your best stories in the comments section, and, in a bit, I'll select one of you to receive some great pasta from my favorite pastamaker, Garofalo. Trust me, this will be worth your time. Oh, and I know what I'm having for dinner tonight