Americans are in love with italian pasta… in all its shapes. Recently, in Williamsburg, the old capital of Virginia, a stop at ‘The Cheese Shop’ was a must. However cheese is not what it is only known for, for one can find every kind of italian pasta under the sun! Farro, calamari inked, you name it they have it. Not to mention all the different sauces…Yours truly (a trasplanted italian into American society) went on a mission to ascertain that those wonderful products were truly coming from Italy and not Taiwan or states like New Jersey. I am happy to reveal that yes everything was coming from the Motherland. Prices? Let’s say airfare to Rome and a nice portion of strozzapreti, gnocchi or ravioli , in the vicinity of the Colosseum might be more satisfying.
A box labeled ABC learn your alphabet ( in Italian) while eating it was left on the shelf since a nice glass of Brunello was the same price…. after all I can buy ABC pasta made by Buitoni for $1.99 at any supermarket.
A few years ago an ‘italianate’ friend called me once a week to explain how she was making her spaghetti sauce from her mother’s recipe. At the time I was using a phone attached to the wall, limiting my steps back and forth, and causing me great annoyance because it was always dinner time when she called. I felt that the call was more to assert herself towards me and seeking my acceptance of her efforts. I finally asked to let me try it rather than talking about it, so from then on I was the recipient of mostaccioli made with that sauce, and they were quite good. The sauce was ‘italian’.
Here in the US I have learned to recognize an impostor sauce, a ‘wanna- be italian’ sauce, a ‘like my nonna made it’ sauce, a ‘fusion’ one, a ‘greek- italian’ one… after all even my mom in Beirut risked some mysterious ingredient once in a while, and used the juicy lebanese banadoura!
In Miami there is a plethora of authentic italian restaurants. I often wondered if this is so to cater to the inevitable appetite of all things italian by the italian tourists… or because Americans are truly ‘in love’ with italian pasta and sauces.
There is always a valid excuse to eat good italian pasta and sugo!