Pasta – The importance of tradition

This isn’t a post about how to make homemade pasta. It’s not a post about how much flour or water to add to make the perfect ball of dough. This post is about the importance of tradition when it comes to making things from scratch – in particular fresh pasta learned from those that have made it in their kitchens for decades before me or you ever came along.

So why is making pasta so important? Why not just buy dried pasta from the store? Why not just go out to eat? I think as a cook, at least a home cook, sometimes we ask ourselves “why do things the hard way?” When in reality the hard way is many times the correct way – especially when it comes to making and crafting a dish from scratch.

Bill Buford wrote so eloquently in his book HEAT about the art of making pasta. The art of learning how to make pasta from masters of the craft.  The art of basically fucking it up 1000 times before getting it right. Making food from scratch is indeed an art, probably more true with crafting pasta than any other food in my opinion.

With it carries responsibility. Tradition. The ownership of passing along the knowledge to those younger, those willing to listen and learn, those willing to fail time and time again in hopes one day they will get it just right. The cycle continues.

So I leave you today with not a recipe for perfectly made homemade pasta – mostly because I am still fucking it up myself. But instead a few images of the craft itself so beautifully displayed as pappardelle and garganelli.

Everything you see I owe to spaghetti – Sophia Loren

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Lemon Lime Shell Pudding

If you’re looking to make a good impression on some dinner guests or simply test your culinary fortitude when it comes to presentation – this dessert might be for you!

A while back I started to play around in the kitchen with different presentations of desserts with the goal of making the aesthetics of the dish fun and new.  After many failed attempts with cakes, pies, cookies and an unfortunate incident with a creme brulee, I managed to come up with this little gem below.

This is a super easy (for the most part) way to impress your friends.

First: Make the lemon pudding. Here comes possibly your must crucial decision in this whole recipe – instant pudding or fresh made.

The answer to that of course is fresh made lemon pudding!  Here’s a quick recipe:

Food Network Lemon Pudding Recipe

After you’ve got the pudding made and it’s chilling in the fridge, start on your creme fraiche. I like this one:

Creme Fraiche Recipe

Next really comes the pain in the ass. When I first attempted to do this it did not turn out well. I wanted to present the lemon pudding in a hollowed out lime. Turns out hollowing out a lime is not the easiest of tasks. Word to the wise – be careful! I basically used a spoon to hollow out a lime, leaving a little bit of the pulp in the bottom.

Place a dollop of your Creme Fraiche on a 8″ circle plate, placing the hollowed out lime in the middle. Carefully spoon the fresh lemon pudding (which should be cold enough to hold its form) into the lime. Adorn with fresh raspberries and perhaps a sprinkle of crushed graham crackers.

And that’s it. A relatively easy and impressive take on lemon pudding.

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Lucky Peach – The End of a great culinary zine

A few months ago LUCKY PEACH announced on its Instagram account they were ending their beloved culinary magazine in print form. The result among the culinary believers has since been a tearful and frustrating farewell.

I discovered Lucky Peach a few years ago after picking up the issue on Chinatown. I consumed it as quickly as I do a bowl of steaming ramen. I quickly went online and purchased every back issue of LP that I could find, including the coveted Issue # 1 which I am not embarrassed to admit paying $125 for at the time.
(Current value steadily increasing since the news).

Since the news of LP’s magazine closure I have read a number of articles online all basically saying similar things. Culinary foodies outpouring their love in comments about the magazine while acclaimed chefs expressing their sadness for the end of what truly is the best culinary magazine available today. The EATER write up was especially good in my opinion and captured a lot of the sadness and gloominess we are all feeling currently.

EATER Article

For me the beautiful thing about LP was it proved if you are not heavily involved in cooking, the food world, or culinary news in general then you probably wouldn’t be someone to purchase the magazine. That solidified the magazines followers as the real deal and we knew that if you read LP then you most likely have a heartfelt love for food, cooking and all that accompanies it.

A casual culinary reader would typically not pay the $12+ an issue just to skim its pages for recipes.

As LP readers each new issue could not have come soon enough. Some of us (meaning me) would even have each issues release date on my calendar at which time I promptly went and bought my issue.  I never subscribed to the magazine as it was always more fun to go to the store and buy the issue.

Ugg … this sucks.

A week later after the announcement many of us mere mortals in the food world are left wondering what’s next? Where and how will we fill this now huge void in our collections of culinary literature? General consensus about the news is somber but hope remains that the creators of the magazine will  continue to make waves in the food world in other avenues. I sure hope so because the lasting effects of this magazine will soon not be forgotten among culinary circles and those of the like. The food scene had a magazine that ‘got it’ finally and wasn’t just about recipe after recipe but put thoughtful and interesting articles behind every new issue.

The release by LP had a witty write up on the end of the print form but indicated the online content will remain. For me I wanted more. I wanted to understand why the magazine was ending. Was it lack of membership or the cost of print media in general? Were the creators moving on to bigger and better things? Are they just going to focus on cook books now?

What?!

After reading the short release from LP I was a bit disappointed about the lack of information provided as to the reasoning behind the closure. Perhaps it is not for us readers and fans to know. And maybe perhaps more explanation will be given down the road from LP or its creators.

Anxious foodies await any updates I am sure.

The magazine in itself became a collectors piece with each new addition and one would suspect back issues now will increase in value as the news spreads. For a split second I thought about seeing what the entire collection would sell for but I wised up and realized I could not part with my issues no matter how bummed I was. Ultimately I would find myself buying them all back online for probably double what I paid for them.

As for me, sadly I always had a notion in my mind that this day might come. Print magazines at higher price points today just seem to have a limited shelf life unfortunately. I believe the magazine could charge double its cover price and still maintain its followers and sell issues. But alas the print gods had other ideas and for the time being we all await the next fresh new idea within the food world.

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