LIFE IS A JOURNEY, ARE YOU READY?

TIPS FOR AN ITALIAN ROADTRIP : COOK YOUR OWN FOOD

Eating out in Italy is not cheap, but it is much cheaper than most places in Europe. It is still expensive, on the average about 50euro for 2, including appetizers, mains, wine and water. We are not referring to fine dining by the way. This is cantina/cafe/bistro food. So, what do you do? You cook your own food.

It has only been recently that we are paying more attention to being 'authentic'. Probably not as authentic as a purist would claim, but true to the taste, not too much of fusion in our opinion. Pasta was never our thing. We enjoyed our oriental cuisine and french food. Pasta has always been this noodley thing that was not too exciting. That was at least in our opinion before we visited Italy. What changed our mind about Italian food was not Tuscany. No!!! Tuscany is not well known for its cuisine. Tuscan food is peasant food. In our whole 15-day stay in Tuscany, there were probably only 2 restaurants where we had decent meals in.

This, changed our minds.

That is right, It is Italian Food by Elizabeth David.

Mr Washy is into his pastas. He wished we cooked wonderful pasta. His wish was granted by Elizabeth. We read this book on the way to Italy, there, and back. It was an amazing book. It did not just teach you about the ingredients, and cooking, it explains to you why certain things are that way with a bit of history. It is wonderful.

Our first pasta dish in Italy was only alright. It was not mind blowing. It was certainly not what we expected from Italy. Pasta is almost always dossed in olive oil in Tuscany. It never failed to make us feel sluggish after.

'Italian Food' showed great insights to Italian food and how to cook it. Where else was a more appropriate place for us to try that? The supermarkets are packed with wonderfully fresh local Italian produce, which would otherwise have cost you too much in your own country. We didn't manage to take pictures of all our food, but here are some.

The classic combination of ham from Parma and rock melon. And can we also mention that grounded pepper is great in Italy. So fragrant and spicy.

Mr Washy started on this before we could take a picture of it. This is tagliatelle with aubergine, onions and pomodori.

This was taken on a separate day. It was Mr Washy's favorite. It is pasta (we didn't take note of the name of this pasta) with roasted peppers and tomato paste.

He loved it so much he had to take another picture.

HERE IS WHAT WE LEARNT :
  • Pasta should always be al dente (that means it is not soft and mushy, it has to have a bite to it).
  • The sauce, whatever it is, coats the pasta. If you have pasta with some sauce dumped on top for you to mix, just run out of the restaurant.
  • This is what we experienced : Dress it with parmesan, if not extra virgin olive oil at the end, while you are tossing. This helps with the coating as well as thickens the sauce if it is too thin and doesn't coat. Never cook with extra virgin olive oil. It is illegal.
  • It makes sense to leave the slightly more than al dente pasta in the sauce to cook for a while, or to toss. This reduces the sauce into the pasta, slightly infusing it. You can add a ladle of paste-cooked water. This contains the starch from the pasta and thickens the sauce.
  • There are classic recipes but there are also no rigid rules in cooking. If you have a good palette, you would know what goes with what. Pasta is peasant food in Italy. You can expect there to be loads of variations as people would be cooking with what is available in their kitchen.
  • Serve immediately. Cold pasta sucks.

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