First time i ate pasta was when i was in grade 7 in Rome (Italy). i was in an international British school (St.George’s English School). It was a Friday – so for lunch we has fish finger n french fries – ice-cream and spaghetti (pasta). i was going to eat pasta for the first time and that too spaghetti – it wouldn’t have been difficult if it were penne or farfalle or any other kind …. but i was saved by my classmate and friend – Kumari. She told me to hold the fork with my right hand – take some spaghetti and roll the fork round and round on the plate still holding those few spaghetti. Those long spaghetti will roll up on the fork which you put in your mouth. If any strings of spaghetti do not get rolled up on the fork properly – you put the rolled pasta in your mouth and cut the hanging pasta with your teeth and let them fall back on your plate … hold your head slightly down -so that it doesn’t look odd. One might think – it will look disgusting – cutting pasta strings with your teeth and letting it fall on the plate and again you eat from the same plate. Actually NO! – it doesn’t and that is how everybody eats … and anyway Italians are non-fussy and they love their food. Like we (Indians) eat rice and curry with our hands – it doesn’t look odd or messy but for those who can’t eat might find it otherwise … of course there’re many Indians who can’t eat rice using their hand and they’ll feel shame using their hands.
As it was an international school – there’re students from all over the world and teachers mostly from Britain … but they too used to eat fish and chips using their hands or dipping bread pieces in the pasta sauce and eating it with their hands. Mostly what is known is that the British are fuss people – they don’t use hands – use only fork and knife …. but ” while in Rome do as the Romans do” – enjoy your food and that too with elegance.
i remember being part of a small play for our House group – it was about different culture and their eating habit – like Italian eating spaghetti – Indian eating with their hands – Chinese using their chop-sticks and so on. It was about knowing and appreciating other culture and not to be disgusted or value others habit low just because you’re not familiar with their customs. This play was designed by our class teacher – but i remember what i now know as “common-sense” or “proper-manner”. What happened was – one of my classmate from science class (Maria from Norway) asked if i ate octopus – i made a disgusted face and said – “of course no!”. She told me in a most friendly and polite manner – ” You might not eat it but people all over the world eat it – it is food for us – you shouldn’t make face for our food – we eat it “. i learnt my lesson … just because i don’t eat it – doesn’t mean it is not food and any sort of food should be respected – that doesn’t mean you have to eat it – you just do not think low for those people who eat it.
And this is common sense – but many people from North India still lack it as they make the most disgusted sound when they hear – we bengalis eat fish and worse crab or prawns … but of course i am proud of what my ancestors ate and i will always eat. Well i guess lot has been said about food habit and common sense – now lets get down to some cooking!
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil – 8 garlic clove (big) finely chopped – 8 large sun dried tomatoes chopped in large chunks – 12 black olives pitted and chopped – 200g canned tuna – 2 cups of tomato sauce – 1/2 cup fresh cream – bunch of Italian parsley finely chopped – extra olive oil for drizzle.
In a big high rise pan – bring water to boil – add salt and pasta (i used spaghetti and Farfalle) – let it cook till done. The way to know when it’s done is that when you chew a cooked pasta it will slightly stick to our teeth ie. al dente. Drain the pasta and keep it aside.
Heat olive oil in a pan – add garlic and sun dried tomatoes and black olives. Cook till garlic turns golden in colour. Pour in the tomato sauce and cook for few minutes. Drain the canned tuna and add it to the sauce. Stir and mix everything together and cook for another few mins. Add the fresh cream – stir properly and simmer for few more minutes. Add the cooked pasta (just before the al dente stage) …. Give it a good stir so that all the sauce and pasta get mixed thoroughly. Sprinkle parsley and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil – serve hot !!
P.S. The tomato sauce used in the recipe has to be prepare before hand. Ingredient for that : 1 medium onion finely chopped – 6 garlic clove finely chopped – 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil – 200g tomato puree – dried chilli pepper crushed – 5 basil leaves torn – salt to taste. Heat olive oil in a pan – add onion -garlic- chilli peppers. Gently fry the ingredient together. Add the tomato puree and mix them well. Let it simmer for 5 mins. of medium heat. Add salt and basil leaves at the end.
1. If you do not have sun dried tomatoes …. use fresh tomatoes but deseed it and cut them in large chunks.
2. If vegetarian like my mom … exclude the tuna fish – it will still taste wonderful !
3. If using canned tomato puree for the tomato sauce – add 1 cup water as the canned puree will be thick.
4. Pasta rolled on a fork.