“There is no love sincerer than the love of food.” ~ George Bernard Shaw
I have always had a love affair with food.
Eataly is a quick five-minute walk from my work, which is perfect for my lunch getaways. As soon as I approached the infamous Italian market, I felt a buzz of excitement encapsulating the area.
I pulled the door open and the espresso-induced wave of energy siphoned me right in. Immediately the earthy smell of coffee enveloped me, while the velvety scent of Nutella blanketed me from the winter air.
Warm, cheerful beings congregated and conversed at tables and around the market area, filling my heart with a quiet delight. I could feel love and happiness filling the market. I searched for the perfect gift on the bottom floor, and once I found it, I perused the remaining aisles to ensure that there was nothing else to consider.
And there it was…my (mechanical) stairway to heaven.
I impulsively hopped onto the escalator, taking it up to the top floor to check out the rest of the market’s offerings. As the escalator approached the top, the savory, comforting smells of garlic, marinara, onions and oregano greeted me—all reminders of previous culinary get-togethers with loved ones. My stomach growled in approval. After all, the way into my heart is through food.
When I stepped off the escalator, aisles of wine bottles beckoned to me. I walked around the perimeter of the top floor and noticed a bread stand. I thought to myself: How wonderful. I could stop by here after work to pick up a loaf of bread and a bottle of wine for dinner.
To the normal foodie, this was heaven.
Then I found it—wedged between the market area, the miniature restaurant and bar and tables—aisles upon aisles of different pastas of all shapes, sizes and lengths. My heart fluttered. All of my thoughts and anxiety disappeared. For a moment, richness, knowledge and warmth hugged my chilled, quiet heart. Everything that I studied in my beloved cookbooks filled my vision. Everything made sense. Life made sense.
I am incredibly fascinated by pasta. I know it may sound nonsensical to equate my perspective of my relationship to different types of pasta noodles. Each recipe calls for a specific type of noodle, and each shape has a purpose and history behind it. Each particular noodle is unique, depending on its sauce pairing. There are no limitations, and each noodle is made with care. I have a few favorite noodles: mafaldine, which is a long, thinner lasagna-like noodle; bucatini, which is a long, hollow shaped pasta; and fusilli bucati, which is like the bucatini, but corkscrewed.
I use the mafaldine for cream-based sauces and for some baked dishes. It reminds me of long, luxurious ribbons wrapped around gifts that make me yearn for the holidays. I use the bucatini and fusilli bucati with thinner sauces. They are the little black dresses of the pasta world. They are extremely versatile, like spaghetti, but they add more depth, charm and an innocent playfulness to the meal.
Just as I prefer certain types of relationships, I also have preferences on pasta noodles—but I appreciate each noodle’s rich history, beautiful design and purpose. Each shape is gently fabricated with intention. I appreciate this process even more when I make my own pasta by hand, because cooking is one of my forms of meditation. To prepare a meal allows me to be present in the moment and to enjoy the intricacies of life.
Furthermore, to be able to share with someone a meal that has so much depth to it, even to the singular noodle, fills me with love and joy and fulfills my heart. There is a connective energy when communing with others. My closest relationships are forged around sharing meals, in comfortable silence or impassioned conversation. For that moment in time, we are present and sharing space, despite any of our backgrounds or our various life-callings. We can lovingly come together and be present in that unique and irreplaceable moment.
Author: Czarina Morgan
Apprentice Editor: Deb Jarrett; Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Image: Author’s own.