My husband had been wanting to spend time with each of our mom’s in the kitchen, and a few weeks after he baked apple slices with his mom, he asked my mom, V, to teach him how to make pasta from scratch.
My husband has always been fascinated by my Italian heritage, especially the food. We both lived at home while we were dating, and whenever he came over to our house, V would “make him a plate.” It could’ve been a plate of anything, but he especially loved the pasta.
There was one particular pasta that was common in my household called cavatelli. They have a doughy consistency when eaten, and Gary loved them. They can be made with ricotta cheese, but V made them with flour, water, and butter.
Now, cooking with my mom in the kitchen is quite different from working with Gary’s mom. You’ve got to take into account our Italian heritage.
Gary and his mom tried to decode her long-ago handwriting for the apple slices recipe.
My mom called out instructions from the recipe in her head. Nothing measured… everything was, “about that much,” or “that’s about right.”
This is how the day went with my mom.
V: Get a half stick of butter.
Gary gets the butter.
V: Fill up a small pot with water and put the butter in it.
Gary: How much water?
V: Just fill it
Gary fills it: Is that enough?
V: That’s about right … Now, heat up the water until the butter is melted.
After curled, or as my grandma used to say, “cava’d” they’re laid out to dry. This pan is just to dry them. They are not baked, but boiled in water like traditional pasta. By the way, cavatelli is literally translated as “little hollows.”
While we waited for them to cook, V told us this was not her mom’s recipe, but rather, her mother-in-law’s recipe. She was taught how to make these delights by my dad’s mom. Sort of like my husband was being taught how to make them by his wife’s mom.
Gary asked V if her mom taught her how to cook, and more stories came out like they did when he baked with his mom. My mom told us that both my grandma and grandpa worked full time when she was growing up in the 1950’s. From a very early age, my grandma used to have V make dinner after school so it would be ready for them when they got home. She wasn’t always happy about having to do it, either. What kid would be?
Making pasta from scratch is no longer a mystery to Gary, and he can “make a plate” for my mom and me. In the process, he pulled out more stories to be passed down. I’ll let him share his thoughts in closing.
Gary: I may not have been born Italian, but I consider myself IBM … Italian By Marriage. I’m fortunate to have grown up in a stable, loving family and have married into a family with a passion for life. The memories from Moms and Dads, grandmas and grandpas, are treasured stories … stories to pass down and stay as true to as we would the family recipes.