Almost every Sunday throughout my childhood my mother made fresh pasta. She’d pull out the wooden board—handmade by my father for that specific purpose—and within minutes she transformed flour, egg, and water into fresh dough.
She would knead it and re-knead it, let it rest. Then she cut it, rolled it out, cut it into smaller pieces, and soon the table would be lined with tiny orrechiette or cavatelli or fusilli or tagliatelle. (When my father joined in the action he inevitable made a batch of oversized ravioli—his favorite, and the favorite of anyone who has tasted them!)
When I moved out on my own, my father made me a pasta board, knowing how much I loved to cook—and to eat homemade pasta! Unfortunately, the only action my board ever saw was the rolling out of premade pizza dough. Life just seemed to take over and my parents’ visits never seemed to include enough time for pasta-making lessons.
On my mother’s last visit we made the time and put my beloved pasta board to its intended use.
For me, cooking with my mother makes for an ideal Sunday afternoon. Learning how to make pasta was practically a form of meditation. There’s a simplicity to the process, but it also requires attention to detail and focus: Feeling the consistency of the dough. Rolling out and cutting the dough in consistent sizes, Sufficiently dusting the pieces before forming the shapes. And so on.
Here’s a glimpse of the process. If you get the opportunity to learn this from a native Italian, I can’t recommend it enough!
It had been a while since my last plate of mother-made pasta and every bite was just as good as always. I’m sure it will take some time to hone my technique and I doubt my results will ever equal my mother’s, but I will gladly continue serving—and eating!—our family’s culinary traditions.