The Suitcase Lady


February 7, 2017, 9:09 am

My paternal grandmother knew how to multipurpose her kitchen chairs. She hung her pasta to dry over the chair backs. Being thoroughly German, grandmother made noodles. The noodles were used mainly for her wonderful homemade chicken soup. Leftover noodles were fried in butter for a quick, easy supper.

I never learned how to make pasta from her, and my mother was strictly a Creamettes woman. My lack of ability in the homemade pasta department, however, does not disqualify me as a member in good standing in the pasta fan club. A week without pasta is a sad week and a two pasta week is not excessive.

Pasta in its multiple shapes and sizes is the ultimate comfort food. Even the names of pastas are delightful….

Conchiglioni- large shells
Farfalle- butterflies
Orecchiette- little ears
Radiatore- radiators
Rotelle- little wheels
Mostaccioli- mustaches
Vermicelli- little worms

Turning pasta into a delicious, anticipated meal can take fifteen minutes or be a major production. Cooks of all ability levels can get satisfaction from creating a homemade pasta dinner. Boxed or frozen pasta entrees seem superfluous.

Pasta also gets stars for being an economical entree. Pasta, baby peas, a dollop of butter, fresh basil, lemon rind and a sprinkle of grated Italian cheese is a feast which costs little to concoct. The leftover money can be spent on wine.

One of my favorite children’s books is “More Spaghetti, I Say”, by Rita Golden Gelman. The main character, a monkey named Minnie, has a spaghetti fixation:

“I need more. More spaghetti, I say. I love it. I love it so much!
I love it on pancakes with ice cream and ham. With pickles and cookies, bananas and jam. I love it with mustard and marshmallow stuff. I eat it all day. I just can’t get enough.”

My sentiments exactly.

7 Comments for this entry

  • Karen Little on Facebook

    Does homemade pasta taste different than packaged? I’ve never understood it – I mean, it has to be dried before it can be cooked.

  • Julilly kohler

    I I love it too– but thank goodness great gluten free pasta is starting to appear!! Don’t sneer,Mary! It’s out there!! Xxxx

  • eve robillard

    I will never feel the same about vermicelli again.
    :) evie

  • Diane Loborec Sheehan on Facebook

    My grandmother was 100% Italian, born in Italy, (shall I mention an immigrant, sorry, just had to!) and lived with us after my grandfather passed away. Very traditional back in the day. She used to make her own fresh pasta. She would lay it out on a sheet over her bed to dry. It was incredible. Cannot explain how the taste is so different, find some fresh and try it! My grandmother was known for her cooking! She passed some of that down to my mom and I like to think myself. Buona mangiata!

  • Diane Loborec Sheehan on Facebook

    It would dry, but it is not dry to the point of hard, like you would buy in the store. A lot of Italian markets will sell fresh pasta daily, if you can find one in your area you should definitely give it a try.

  • Alyce Weiss

    My mother used to make noodles and dry them over a chair also. When we moved into our home we met our elderly Italian neighbor who was determined to teach me her Sicilian way of cooking. Pasta was the first lesson. She also dried noodles on her bed. Remember her coming to our house with her pasta machine and a white sheet to cover my bed. We had a trail of flour from the kitchen to the bedroom as I diligently carried the freshly cut pasta to its resting place. Also made lasagne noodles that way .Well worth the mess.