Do it at home
When not under lockdown, I usually travel a lot for my work as an interpreter. My trips are usually short, but it’s still possible to squeeze in the odd walk or find a tasty meal off the beaten tourist track. One of such memorable work trips took me to Rome. As usual, leisure time was at a premium but I managed to venture out and eat very well along the way. I appreciated the freshness and the quality of food in Italy. With the borders closed, there couldn’t be a better time to try to recreate the experience with homemade tagliatelle.
An Italian colleague of mine mentioned during one of our Skype calls that her family often makes tagliatelle at home. I must have reacted with enthusiasm because she later sent me a video of the recipe and method. Her husband made the process look easy and although initially apprehensive, I decided to give homemade pasta a go, based on her video and this recipe with more detailed step-by-step instructions.
The most important ingredient to make homemade tagliatelle is Italian “00” flour or durum (wheat) semolina. It was difficult to source in our local area but I managed to buy it for a decent price in the Sous Chef Cooking Shop. The second and last ingredient was two large eggs. As for the sauce, we opted for a meat-free version of the traditional Ragù alla Bolognese, by substituting beef with veggie mince. We are not a vegetarian household, but simply not big on meat.
After combing the two ingredients – I liked the suggestion of making a volcano-shape with the flour and carefully pour the egg mixture into the crater – it’s kneading time. It’s a perfect task for a bored child under lockdown. If your child has shown grit and resilience, the result should be smooth and elastic.
After wrapping the dough in cling film or reusable beeswax wraps, we refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes to let it rest. The next task is to flatten the dough with a rolling pin until it’s no thicker than 1 mm. This also requires dedication so maybe it’s time to grab a patient member of the household. When the dough is satisfyingly thin, it’s time to roll it out and cut into thin strips. The mistake we initially made was to cut it up too thick. The pasta dough expands when cooked and although edible, the result was somewhat disappointing.
If everything goes well, the next step is easy. Bring a large pot of water to the boil, salt it well and plunge the fruits of your labour into the boiling water. The pasta will be ready after 3-5 minutes. Drain it well, give it a shake and enjoy.
Just like journeying within, cooking can help with the restlessness of confinement and bring back memories of times when travel was a possibility. Simple recipes requiring a degree of manual labour and dedication are perfect to bring the perfect combo of mental calm and culinary variety into daily life.