I know I posted about food last week, but my culinary undertakings this week were just too good to pass up. On Sunday evening, my friend and I decided to attempt something I’ve been wanting to try since my plane touched down in Rome: we made pasta from scratch. For our first adventure in the world of handmade pasta, we followed the simplest recipe you can imagine: 6 eggs and 600g of “tipo 00” flour. Apparently this particular flour is the secret ingredient that makes Italian pasta so good, and after this experience, I’m utterly sold. We started by cracking the eggs into the flour, and got our hands dirty manually mixing the substance until it resembled a dough-like consistency. Then we got to kneading, and eventually were left with a relatively smooth, doughy ball.
While the dough refrigerated for 30 minutes, we turned to sauce preparations: we went with a simple vegetable and white wine sauce, with the goal of accentuating the fresh pasta flavor, but experimented by tossing in some Roman zucchini (including the zucchini flowers on the end, which ended up tasting delicious).
In our makeshift chef manner, we realized that we didn’t even own rolling pins, so we pulled out some wine bottles and used those to roll out segments of the dough as thinly as possible, before folding them over and cutting them into thin, noodle-like strips.
After a quick boil, the noodles were perfectly al dente and ready to be served! Our first foray into the world of homemade pasta was a success, and we’re already hatching plans to take our skills to the next level with more ambitious creations like basil gnocchi or mushroom ravioli.
As if my cooking was not enough Italian consumption education for one week, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I attended Temple Rome’s wine tasting night on Wednesday. Joined by a professional sommelier, many of us gathered to taste three different wines—red, white, and sparkling—and learn about the ins and outs of Italian wine. We learned words from “tannic” to “salty” to describe the flavors of different wines, which foods to pair with different types of wines, and how to properly open a bottle of Prosecco (and that we legally cannot call it “Champagne” unless it’s from the Champagne region of France). We were even each given a special Temple Rome wine glass and handy carrying pouch to ensure that we didn’t drop our glasses.
I’ve always viewed food and drink as a fantastic way to explore a new culture, but living in Italy has given me a new appreciation for the importance of mealtimes. From having a certain shape of pasta that goes with each sauce to best accentuate the flavor, to using multiple senses to enjoy a glass of wine (“sight, smell, taste” is the order we were taught at the tasting event), food and drink take on an entirely new significance in a country that is so intentional with every bite and sip. I cannot wait for more immersive culinary experiences, both in the kitchen and in the bars and restaurants that cover the streets of Rome.