How are you going to spend Oct. 17?
Don’t you get that day off?
It’s National Pasta Day. And if anything on earth is worth celebrating, it’s pasta.
There’s rotini, fusilli, rigatoni, lasagna, tortellini, penne, conchiglie — 600 different shapes of pasta. All of them delicious.
And let’s settle something right away: Pasta was not originally brought to Italy by Marco Polo from China. The ancient Romans had pasta. And in 1279 A.D. an Italian, Ponzio Bastogne, bequeathed a storage bin of macaroni in his will. Marco Polo was still vacationing in Asia that year.
For me, the celebration of pasta is a year-round activity and a tradition.
The people who came to this country from Italy, such as my grandfather, came because they didn’t want to be poor any more and didn’t want their children to be poor. They brought precious little with them. But one thing they brought was certain foods and ways to prepare them.
And the greatest of these was pasta. (Pasta is the Italian word for dough.)
Fancy restaurants try to turn pasta into cuisine — pasta and frog lips in a white cream sauce with truffles.
But real pasta isn’t cuisine. It’s food. Food for hungry regular people.
There are, indeed, many ways to prepare pasta. But in honor of National Pasta Day, let’s be as plain, as down to earth, as the food we are celebrating.
The first thing that comes to mind when we think of pasta is — of course — spaghetti. Spaghetti with a red sauce (or gravy). And it’s best served with meatballs or sausage.
Fine dining critics look down their nose at spaghetti. Spaghetti isn’t subtle, merely delicious. It’s part of the fun of being a critic, telling people what they like is not good and shaming them into liking what you like instead.
But you love spaghetti. I know you do. You have loved spaghetti since you were a very small child. It’s all right. I not only understand, I completely agree with you.
It’s even patriotic to like spaghetti.
You know who first brought pasta to the United States? Thomas Jefferson in 1789.
Spaghetti (pasta) is red white and blue. Preferably red.
Cuisine comes and goes, but food remains. And pasta is food at its best. It endures. It abides.
Happy National Pasta Day. You know very well how to celebrate it.
Meatballs or sausage?