How Pasta Got Its Groove Back

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I’m not going to sugar coat this in any way.  When Kris started to make fresh pasta, it use to bug the crap out of me – all for selfish reasons of course.

His first pasta making experiments began in the West Village.  He bought this contraption that probably cost more than we could afford, but that never stopped Kris before when it came to his kitchen gadgets.  We would have to eat dirt for a week, but hey, it was mixed in the Cuisinart!  Don’t even get me started on William-Sonoma.  Through the years, I’ve learned to deal with it (It’s called a dry vodka martini straight up with olives, thank you).

Anyway, his first pasta maker was something called a “pasta exuder.” I know, it sounds nice doesn’t it? Something that exudes pasta…yum! It was also huge and made a lot of racket…perfect for a dinky apartment in the Village. It would push something that was supposed to be pasta out of these holes through the end of it.  I thought it was hysterical…Kris not so much.  That was a great investment.

This kind of put the kibosh on fresh pasta making for a while, which was fine by me.  I’m a boy from South Dakota, so pasta night growing up was boiled spaghetti out of a box with a Ragu knock-off for the sauce.  The sauce usually went straight from the fridge directly onto the pasta. Mom was fancy like that.  Wait till you hear about The Loon family Thanksgivings…it’ll probably require a couple of entries in the Loon Log.

So I was safe from the pasta making for a few years until that fateful Christmas in Texas in the late 90s.  Kris’ niece, Kristin, was a very attentive child and always paid close attention to what we wrote on our Christmas gift lists – unlike her brother who would fly by the seat of his pants (Thanks, Kyle, for the stainless steel bullet shaped salt-n-pepper shakers…I use them all the time).  Anyway, Kristin bought Kris this manual pasta rolling machine.  It was very nice and very heavy.  I think we paid extra on the flight home because our luggage was overweight, but Kris made sure we had it.  My salt-n-pepper shakers fit nicely in my pocket.

Now that Kris had the pasta roller, he was determined to develop the perfect pasta dough.  After the first few tries, the pasta roller malfunctioned, so I had to be brought into the process to help.  It was fun at first, you know, like those Italian-esque commercials where everyone is in the kitchen laughing, rolling pasta, flour everywhere and hugging the dog.  Well, that lasted for about three more rounds of pasta.  The routine became arduous and my forearm started to form a constant bruise because as he cranked the handle he would always hit my arm. I’m such a victim.

The manual pasta rolling continued until winter of 2007. It was a wonderful season that year – civil-unions became legal in New Jersey, and I formed a permanent callous on my forearm.  That December, Kris and I invited a few friends and family to a small town on the Delaware River in New Jersey called Lambertville where we were officially civil unionized.  I remember it very clearly – the snow was falling, the restaurant was adorable and our dear friends gave us a way too generous gift certificate to….wait for it….William-Sonoma!

I don’t even think we were done with the third course before Kris had already made up his mind on what he was going to buy with OUR gift certificate.  I, of course, wanted to buy copious amounts of peppermint bark.  In the end, the KitchenAid standing mixer became a part of our family.

If I knew then what I know now, I would have made that purchase faster than you can say “red velvet cupcakes” because a little while later, we purchased the pasta roller attachment.  My years of being enslaved as a pasta roller were over!

Every now and again, when I’m feeling nostalgic, I’ll bring the dog into the kitchen and help Kris make his spinach pasta which is my favorite.  We’ll laugh, toss some flour around, talk with Italian accents and hug the dog.

Then I’ll get bored and go sit on the couch.

-The Loon

Want another classic Loon Log entry? How about: Mi Nombre es Albondiga (My Name is Meatball) OR The First Cooking of the Stock OR Fried Rice and Free Wine!

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