Part of coming of age and the endless struggle for self is the establishment and ascendance of individual truth, honing mind and temperament, discriminating fact from fancy, empirical evidence from legend and myth.
I thought I had arrived in so many ways and then reality hit me like a flung wet noodle against the wall of my existence. We’ll save for another venue all the charming folktales of my youth soberly and maturedly dispensed with. But there I was, sitting pretty on the comfy wine colored couch, reaching for a bleached white conch shell that sits atop a wicker woven basket poised for reminiscence, aside other brilliant priceless colored stones, crystals, odd shaped rocks and shells randomly picked for their momentary significance and tangible recall. As I held the conch to my ear, I heard the voice of my nine year old neighbor and friend – Batya – herself clearly establishing her own unique truth sets, say:
- You know, that’s not the sound of the ocean you’re hearing, that’s just the echo of the air in the shell.
- What??? That can’t possibly be true, I know it’s the ocean, the waves of the very ocean that the shell came from.
I was not going to let this cute but clearly misinformed enfant terrible wreck my personal objects de time machine recall. Of course, we did what sensible people do in such circumstances, we checked Wikipedia online.
I shouldn’t have, I know it now….. there are certain life mysteries that are best left alone… but there it was, the total deflation of spirit and romance and everything that’s right with the world….”What you are actually hearing is the sound around you vibrating as an echo in the air within the shell.” Who the heck needed to hear that, to know that? Great! Take the technicolor out of my universe… Hey, absolute reality is not all it’s cracked up to be. I know a butterfly flitting it’s wings impacts the climate at the opposite end of the globe, and I know with the ten percent of my brain operational part of my brain that yawning is contagious, chicken soup cures a cold and that the five second rule applies. So maybe being primordial isn’t such a bad thing… No such thing as fairy dust?!?!?!? P’shaaaaaawww! What a world, What a world!!!
So talking about cooking pasta. Here I was thinking I had reached maximum maturity when I learned that al dente is très chic, that the “if it sticks” rule really does work and that salt in boiling water is a good thing along with a few drops of oil, so that the pasta doesn’t stick. When I really pay attention, I even cover the pot after its come to a boil and let it stay on low simmer.
Anyway, here are a few things I’ve learned since. Feel free to write in and further debunk my myths.
- Use a one to four ratio of water to pasta – four parts water to one part of pasta. Pasta needs room to cook.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of salt for each gallon of water.
- Bring it to mighty bubbling boil, and then let it simmer for a minute or two till done.
- Don’t add oil… get this: oil makes the pasta slick and then all the wonderful sauces can’t adhere to it.
- Furthermore, after you drain the pasta, don’t rinse it. The starchiness too is a binder for whatever you will be adding to your pasta dish. The only exception is when you are making a cold pasta salad, then it is preferable to rinse the pasta first.
See? Some things are worth knowing after all. By the way, that gum I swallowed approaching the shiva house… seven years until it dissolves. Well what you can’t see can’t hurt you, right? Right?
Stir Fry Beef on Penne Pasta (adpated from 6ix Passions)
- 1 lb penne pasta
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 red onion, cut into strips
- 1 lb beef, cubed
- 1 red pepper, cut into strips
- 1 cup mushrooms, chopped
- 8 broccoli florettes
- Mango Salsa
- 1/2 cup fresh basil
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cook the penne pasta al dente (cooked through, tender, but still offering some resistance to the bite).
- Stir fry beef with Spanish red onion, mushrooms, red peppers and broccoli
- Toss on the pasta with mango salsa.
- Sprinkle with fresh parsley