I have many fond memories of my Nan; her humour, honesty, stories of years past, her bitter-sweet love of travel, her love of music (particularly THIS song), her loyalty to her late husband and her adoration of her family to name just a few. Random little things we realised we had in common when I stayed with her last summer – apparently we even had the same shower/bath routine…Nan found this particularly hilarious.
Something she taught me when I was a wee lass, was how to make pasta from scratch. That is one memory that I have engrained and will remember forever. She called me and my sister in to her kitchen up in Scotland – I was probably about 9 years old, my sister 6 – and told us she would teach us how to make pasta the proper/Italian way. I’m not sure if my sister stuck around long, never the sort to sit still as a child, but I was engrossed.
First, Nan made a mound of plain flour directly on to her old kitchen table. I’m sure you could find a scientific recipe somewhere on the web, but Nan was a pasta veteran, she just poured that flour out. When she was satisfied with her perfectly formed flour mountain, she made a well in the middle. Now it was a flour volcano.
Next, she broke four eggs directly in to said flour volcano, added a pinch of salt, then using her hands gradually mixed egg with flour. She continued to pull more of the flour in to the eggy lava until it eventually formed a non-stick dough.
I can guarantee that, for the next 20 minutes at least, my wee sister did not partake. Nan took her dough ball and began to knead it on the now lightly floured table. For 20 minutes. IT’S SO IMPORTANT TO DO THIS BIT…and hey, a cheap work out. Eventually it will form a smooth dough ready for the next stage.
I’d like to think I helped during this entire process, I’m pretty sure I did…but it is also possible that I just stood and watched in awe. My Nan was awesome.
Once the dough had been allowed to rest in the fridge for half an hour, she re-introduced it to the kitchen table. There, rather than use a rolling pin, she pushed the dough in to long flat pieces before feeding them through her ol’faithful manual pasta roller. She explained that this would be the way to make sheets of lasagne…but we weren’t making lasagne. She changed the roller attachment to a slicer attachment and fed the now thin and perfectly formed sheets through once again. Tagliatelle! It was so simple, but one of the best things I’d ever “helped” make.
At this point, she told me that she sometimes made pasta like this and allowed it to dry. It’d keep a while that way. On this occasion though, we promptly added the pasta to a pan of boiling water and cooked for barely 5 minutes. When cooked, she added her home made tomato (she also had one of those awesome tomato grinders…) and basil pasta sauce, served with parmigiano-reggiano, et voila!
This is such a fond memory of mine, one that sends you straight back to your childhood and one that I will pass on to anyone who will hear it.
I am so proud of my Nan and all she achieved – I am so thankful to have had her in my life for 23 years and for all that I learnt from her over the years.
She certainly has left one hell of a legacy. Hope you enjoy Nonna’s pasta as much as I do!
I love you Nan