6.30am, Sunday 9th May, I got out of bed and looked around, taking in the peace of watching my family members fast asleep. They would not be awake anytime soon, unlike during weekdays where my children will be glued to their laptops from as early as 7.30am for their Home-Based Learning.
I decided to use my morning quiet time to do something I'd never done before - hand-make my favourite pasta - orecchiette (little ears). It's exciting yet a little scary at the same time, knowing I had to get it ready for lunch. With 300g of Semola Rimacinata (De Cecco brand) and approximately half the amount of tepid water, I kneaded the dough, rested it for 30minutes, and started to press my first orecchiette with a butter knife. A few 'little ears' later, I was gaining confidence, as both the dough and the resultant pasta looked 'passable'.
My kids then appeared beside me at the dining table. Timely actually, as the final move of flipping the pressed dough inside-out over my finger was slowing me down, so I delegated this job to them. Together, with just a butter knife (which would not even be required had I decided to make Strascinati), we made enough pasta to feed a family of 4. It took a while, but we managed to finish before 9am, in time for a late Sunday breakfast.
The sauce to go with it was equally straightforward. I opened a can of Fiamma cherry tomatoes, a can of Mutti tomato paste, a can of anchovies and some leftover olives and capers in the fridge, plus the only fresh ingredient - sliced garlic, to put together (you should know by now), some Puttanesca sauce.
Look, I didn't have a pasta machine. Heck, I didn't even use a rolling pin. Even if I had NO eggs at home, I would still have pushed out this dish. It was really back to basics. Yet, how many restaurants can cross their hearts and say they serve dishes made the way they were supposed to be? I am all for efficiency, consistency and creativity. I enjoy all sorts of delicious food, but why has traditional "back to basics" cooking become the minority? Anyway, that's a debate for another day.
With this spirit, I pushed on for the rest of the day.
I turned tiny, tart, borderline-inedible local plums into unexpectedly-delicious jam using just brown sugar and a pinch of salt, and cured some egg yolks with sugar, fish sauce and vinegar. So much can be done with so little, as long as you believe you can and bother to give it a go.
I hope all of us will walk out of this better prepared for future crises, equipped with closer bonds with the people who mean the most to you and a deeper appreciation for simple things in life.
|Meanwhile, happy Mother's Day to the evergreen beauty of the house!|