PASTA, NOODLES, COUSCOUS & RICE
It is a compliment to the Italians that they have spent centuries inventing many different varieties of pastas. Likewise, the Indians have spent even longer refining their rice dishes and the Chinese have been producing fine noodle dishes since time began!
It is our duty as citizens of the world, to try them all, starting (in the case of pastas) with simple spaghetti and working through fusilli, tagliatelli, vermicelli and anything else that takes your fancy!
Basic pasta is made from Durum wheat semolina and fresh eggs. Most varieties are now available fresh in delicatessens or larger supermarkets. It is a good idea, though, to keep some dried packets in stock for quick and simple meals. Just cook them in boiling water according to the instructions on the packet until they are tender. You will find an increasing variety of sauces such as Neapolitan, Provençale etc., which are ideal to make your pastas more tasty and interesting.
As a quick guide, the following eight pastas are the ones most commonly used...
Farfalle: Plain, butterfly or shell-shaped egg pasta.
Fusilli: Spiral shaped short sticks of pasta that look like little barley sugar candies. Often available in different flavours (tomato etc.)
Macaroni: Short, thin, hollow pasta sticks with a slightly sweet taste.
Ravioli: Small 'parcels' of pasta with a saucy meat inside.
Spaghetti: Long, thin hollow sticks of pasta about one foot (30cm) long. When putting them in a pan of boiling water, it is necessary to hold them by one end and allow the other end to soften in the water a little before they can be wound into the pan.
Tagliatelli: Narrow, flat strips of egg pasta often sold flavoured with various herbs or garlic. When bought as dried Tagliatelli in packets, they are usually wound into little nests, but these shapes disappear during cooking.
Tortellini: Small 'parcels' of pasta similar to Ravioli but often containing cheese sauces rather than meat.
Vermicelli: Tiny, thin, short sticks of egg pasta that makes a superb quick soup (see Chicken Vermicelli Soup)
What To Eat Tonight
Chicken, that most tender and versatile of foods, deserves a place of honor in the chef's 'keepers' file. Take a look at some of these.
The versatile egg just hides quietly in your kitchen waiting for the word of command, then transforms itself into a million different meals.
Those wonderful beasts that just scream for something hot and tasty between toasted bread or buns. Once tasted, never forgotten!