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Paste Makes Waste
In an Italian grocery store we noticed a great variety of pastes in boxes arranged along the counter and began counting them. The proprietor noticed us and, with a characteristic shrug of his shoulders, said: "That is but a few of them. We have not room to show them all." In response to our inquiry regarding the number of kinds of paste made by Italians he said there were more than seventy-five. Ordinarily we think of one - spaghetti - or possibly two, including macaroni. If our knowledge goes a little farther we think also of tagliarini, which is the Italian equivalent of noodles, as it is made with eggs.
In New York we were much impressed with the stress they laid on the serving of spaghetti, and one restaurant went so far as to advertise dinners given "under the spaghetti vine." It appears that this is the only paste they know anything about.
After one eats tagliarini or ravioli one feels like paraphrasing the darkey and saying, "go way spaghetti, yo done los' yo tase."
Then comes tortelini which, like ravioli, combines paste with meat and spinach. These may be considered the most prominent of the pastes, the others being variants in the making and cutting, each serving a special purpose in cooking, some being for soups, others for sauces and others for dressing for meats. It is more than probable that the great variety comes from individual tastes in cutting or rolling.
All Italian restaurants serve the paste as a releve rather than as an entree, which it usually follows, preceding the roast in the dinner. As a separate and distinct dish it can well be made to serve as a full meal, especially when tagliarini is prepared after the following recipe:
Tagliarini Des Beaux Arts
Cook one pound of tagliarini in boiling water twenty-five minutes, then draw off the water. To the tagliarini add a handful of mushrooms which have been sliced and fried in butter. Then add three chicken livers which have been chopped small and fried, one sliced truffle, one red pepper chopped fine and a little Parmesan cheese. Make a brown sauce of one-third beef broth thickened with melted butter and flour and two-thirds tomato sauce, and pour this over the tagliarini. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and serve very hot from a chafing dish. (By Oliver, chef of the Restaurant des Beaux Arts, Paris.)
In San Francisco one finds both the imported and the domestic paste, and frequently one hears the assertion that the imported is the better. This idea is born of the thought that all things from Europe are better than the same made in America. In fact the paste that comes from Italy is neither so good in taste, nor is it so clean in the making. We have visited a number of paste factories in San Francisco and have found them all scrupulously clean, with the best of materials in the composition of the pastes.
One often wonders how the pastes came to be so many and how they received their names. Names of some of them are accidents, as is illustrated by macaroni. According to an Italian friend who vouches for the fact, it received its name from an expression of pleasure. "Macari" means "fine, excellent," and the superlative is "macaroni." A famous Italian gourmet constantly desired new dishes to please his taste, and one day his chef carried to him something that was unusual. The gourmet tasted it, cried out "macari!" Tasted again, threw out his arms in delight and cried "macaroni!"
"What is the name of this wonderful dish?"
"You have named it. It is macaroni."