461: Fresh Pasta

Molly:

I'm Molly.


Matthew:

I'm Matthew.


Molly:

This is Spilled Milk, the show where we cook something delicious, eat it all, and you can't have any.


Matthew:

This episode is coming out on October 29th, so happy Halloween. This is going to be another spooky episode.


Molly:

Matthew actually wrote that at the top of our agenda. It's another spooky episode with eight O's. It did make me giggle a little bit.


Matthew:

Good.


Molly:

Because fresh pasta is so spooky.


Matthew:

It is. Oh, it's with, by the way, is what we're talking about on this week's episode, yeah.


Molly:

You know what it really spooky, though?


Matthew:

Yes.


Molly:

The fact that there's an election in four days.


Matthew:

That's true, that is very spooky.


Molly:

Matthew and I have been talking. It's really tricky to figure out how to talk about real life on a comedy podcast that frankly we use for escapism, and maybe you do too, but this is a really challenging time and has been for a long time. We hope that everyone, we more than hope, we really hope-


Matthew:

We require.


Molly:

We require that all of our listeners vote in this election. We want to be very-


Matthew:

If you're not eligible to vote, then you can refrain.


Molly:

Okay, but we want to be really clear. This election is really important. This election is also really challenging to talk about.


Matthew:

Yeah, we're scared, I think a lot of Americans are scared. I think-


Molly:

We are scared.


Matthew:

... most of our listeners probably are. Yeah, and not just Americans, of course. What happens here affects the entire world. Molly and I have been talking about this and are trying to balance, how much do we let this creep into our escapist comedy show that we want people in a future better time to enjoy coming back and listening to and-


Molly:

I love thinking about that future better time.


Matthew:

Yeah, me too. I just heard this morning that Japan is planning to allow American tourists back in starting in April.


Molly:

Are you planning to get yourself there and stay?


Matthew:

Maybe, sometime pretty soon probably.


Molly:

Yeah, so I think the really tricky thing is that I think we all... I want to be really clear. I am voting for Joe Biden.


Matthew:

Me too.


Molly:

I have voted for Joe Biden. However, whether Joe Biden wins this election or not, I think that we are not finished with this period of fascism that this country is in. I think we've got a long road ahead of us and we're really struggling with that.


Matthew:

Yeah, and I think Molly and I are both, have been for years now, trying to participate and do our best and sometimes doing okay, and something failing at that, and always trying to figure out what is the right thing to do. It really sucks.


Molly:

Yeah, we don't know what we're trying to say.


Matthew:

I mean, one clear thing we could say is, if you're eligible to vote in US election and have not already voted for Joe Biden, do that.


Molly:

There we go.


Matthew:

We could not possibly be more clear about that. Is that going to be sufficient? Probably not. You want to talk about fresh pasta?


Molly:

Yeah, let's talk about fresh pasta.


Matthew:

Okay, how about-


Molly:

You know what fresh past is? It's really comforting.


Matthew:

It is, yeah. It's a classic comfort food. This is really the season for classic comfort food.


Molly:

It truly is.


Matthew:

That season is when your country gets taken over-


Molly:

By a-


Matthew:

... by a band of monsters.


Molly:

Yeah, I thought you were going to say by a fascist dictator.


Matthew:

That's a band of monsters.


Molly:

Yeah okay, anyway.


Matthew:

These things travel in packs.


Molly:

That's true. God, do they ever? They seem to multiply no matter how many of them you fire. They just keep coming.


Matthew:

I know, if someone were to take Steven Miller by the neck and twist the neck until it cracks, would he pop back up?


Molly:

[crosstalk 00:03:42].


Matthew:

Maybe worth trying.


Molly:

I think that some green stuff would ooze out and it would make more Steven Millers.


Matthew:

Yeah, all right. So that's going to be our next episode. What's your fresh pasta memory lane?


Molly:

Oh man, okay so my fresh pasta memory lane goes back to Oklahoma City, as everyone's does.


Matthew:

Of course. I did a little fresh pasta research, and it turns out that's where it originated.


Molly:

That's what I had always suspected. So back in the '80s when pasta became a trend that took over America, a beneficent. Is that a-


Matthew:

Yeah.


Molly:

Is that a term I'm looking for? A beneficent trend. [crosstalk 00:04:24]-


Matthew:

I think that is a word. I don't think I've ever heard it spoken out loud before.


Molly:

Wow, you know how, Matthew... you know how when I'm high, I speak in long words?


Matthew:

Yeah.


Molly:

I'm not high right now. I just want to make it clear.


Matthew:

Okay, did I sound like I believe you?


Molly:

You did. Okay, anyway. I wanted to say that when pasta-


Matthew:

I really was having, is I was looking up the word beneficent to see if it was a real word or not because it seems probably.


Molly:

Is it real?


Matthew:

It's real.


Molly:

Oh, is it like the antonym of maleficent? That's a movie.


Matthew:

Yeah, antonym of maleficent from Sleeping Beauty? Which one has Maleficent? Cinderella?


Molly:

I don't know, oh my god. Let's just move on. Okay?


Matthew:

Nope, now I'm looking up Maleficent. This is our new thing. Maleficent is a 2014 American fantasy film starring Angelina Jolie.


Molly:

Well, I am the antonym of Angelina Jolie.


Matthew:

No.


Molly:

I'm a word.


Matthew:

You're a word?


Molly:

Well yeah, because I mean people can't be antonyms.


Matthew:

But I mean there are people who can be the opposite of other people, I think.


Molly:

Of course, of course, but I chose the word antonym instead of opposite. Did you know that the other day I had to help my child with a lesson on homonyms and homophones? It nearly broke me.


Matthew:

Oh wow, at one point I knew what homonym and homophone and there's a third one also I think.


Molly:

Gramophone.


Matthew:

Gramophone, yes. So-


Molly:

Yeah, no I found myself going, why do teachers teach these concepts at the same time? They're so confusingly similar. Why do we teach them in the same lesson?


Matthew:

Why do people even need to know those words, really?


Molly:

Yeah, I mean throw all those words out the window. Let's just remove them from the language.


Matthew:

I mean, does anyone have trouble with the concept that words can mean multiple different things?


Molly:

I think some people do, yeah.


Matthew:

Okay.


Molly:

Okay, so Matthew, I'm going to go back to Oklahoma City again, if you're ready?


Matthew:

Okay, yes.


Molly:

Okay, there was in one of Oklahoma City's many strip malls, there was a place that opened. Oh my god, I'm sure I've said the name of it in a previous episode, but it was called Pasta Pizazz or something like that. They sold fresh pasta, and now that I think back on it, I think some of my earliest memories of eating pasta in the '80s as this exciting new hip food, were actually of fresh pasta from that place. I remember my parents going and buying it. It would come in a little foil tray with a little plastic lid on the top.


Matthew:

Nice.


Molly:

With a stuck on label saying what type of pasta it was. My parents were so excited, I mean you can imagine Moe Wizenberg, inventor of Endive and Altoids, was thrilled to find fresh pasta in his hometown of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.


Matthew:

No, that's why on your family crest, there's four quadrants and one has Endive, one has Altoids, one has a little-


Molly:

A little nest.


Matthew:

... piece of-


Molly:

Fresh pasta.


Matthew:

A little nest of fresh pasta. Yes, one of those nests. The fourth one is just waiting to be filled in-


Molly:

It is.


Matthew:

... by the end of this episode.


Molly:

So, Matthew, when I then was in my early 20s and I worked at Whole Foods Market in Northern California, I would occasionally get the opening shift, which was 6:00 AM until 2:00 PM.


Matthew:

Oh.


Molly:

I know, and the store didn't open until 8:00, and it was this magical time between 6:00 and 8:00 when the store was... You know this feeling of being in an airport early in the morning?


Matthew:

Yeah.


Molly:

The world is just waking up, it's like you're seeing almost behind the scenes. You know?


Matthew:

Yeah, people like the ticket windows are opening, they're taking out the little standup paper thing saying this window is closed, and replacing one that says this window is open but now there's this barrier and you... I mean, which I guess for hygiene reasons it's a good idea.


Molly:

Okay, but anyway. I remember, even though I was bleary-eyed arriving at work, I remember this being a peaceful time. They would turn up the music in the store louder than it would during open hours.


Matthew:

What kind of music would they play the time?


Molly:

I think it was often '80s stuff. It was stuff that everybody enjoyed. Everybody was somehow just very focused on their morning tasks. I think we were all equally sleepy. I remember standing behind the counter, I worked in the specialty section where all the cheeses and olives and stuff are, and we sold fresh pasta in that section. The fresh pasta would come from some place in Berkeley in this rectangular cardboard box that looked like it would have a men's shirt in it, a fancy, starched men's shirt.


Matthew:

Oh, I know. Yes.


Molly:

Do you know what I mean? Do you remember that?


Matthew:

I know what you mean because I can't remember what... I think we talked about this on the ravioli episode, but I used to buy some brand of frozen but local frozen ravioli that would come in that kind of box with the lift off top.


Molly:

Yes.


Matthew:

So satisfying.


Molly:

So satisfying.


Matthew:

So fancy.


Molly:

Okay, so anyway, one of my jobs at 6:30 in the morning was to take this cardboard box of pasta, weigh out portions of it, and then swirl them into nests.


Matthew:

Oh, that's how that happened.


Molly:

That's how that happened.


Matthew:

You did it.


Molly:

I would swirl them into nests, and then I would put them in almost a little salad bar container, label it, and weigh it, and put it on the shelf. It was so satisfying. I remember my boss teaching me how to make the fresh pasta nests and all I can say is, they're good memories, they're good memories, Matthew.


Matthew:

So these would be long pastas like a fettuccine or tagliatelle or a Spaghetti-


Molly:

Exactly.


Matthew:

... alla Chitarra?


Molly:

I seem to remember... Nice job with that rolling R there.


Matthew:

I don't know.


Molly:

I seem-


Matthew:

I didn't feel good about it.


Molly:

I seem to remember a lot of fettuccine, linguini kind of things, but then I do also remember there being boxes of fresh ravioli and I would have to weigh that out.


Matthew:

Yes.


Molly:

So it's interesting, I don't know, my memories of fresh pasta involve eating it less than touching it.


Matthew:

Yeah, okay. I don't really remember much in the way of fresh pasta before wife of the show Lori and I moved to Seattle in '96. I know, I'm sure I did have it as a kid but I just don't remember it, but we quickly became customers of a local chain called Pasta and Company, which still exists. There aren't as many locations as there used to be, but for a brief time there was a location on Capitol Hill near where we lived. So we would always get their matriciana sauce, which was kind of like an Amatriciana sauce but with prosciutto in it instead of pancetta or guanciale. That was really good, and a bag of fresh linguini or fettuccine.


Molly:

So would it be refrigerated fresh or was it-


Matthew:

Yes.


Molly:

... freshly dried?


Matthew:

It was refrigerated fresh, and it was really good.


Molly:

It's so weird. I think a fresh pasta is such a luxury product that I rarely ever buy myself. I mean, certainly it is way more expensive than dried pasta, but it is so good. I don't know why I don't buy it.


Matthew:

Well, I think the good stuff, the fresh pasta that they sell in a blister path in the cheap, cheese aisle at the supermarket is-


Molly:

Is just okay.


Matthew:

It's just okay.


Molly:

That's a good point.


Matthew:

So all dried pasta I think is at least pretty good, some of it is great. Whereas the average fresh pasta, supermarket fresh pasta is okay. It's still not bad, it's still pasta.


Molly:

Yeah, I think that I have not... the time I most recently bought fresh pasta was for making Samin Nosrat's big lasagna from the New York Times.


Matthew:

Oh yes.


Molly:

Which I made earlier in the pandemic, but otherwise I think I tend to now only eat fresh pasta in restaurants, which I also haven't done for many months.


Matthew:

So when you made the big lasagna, were you able to buy fresh lasagna sheets?


Molly:

Yeah, I went to my local PCC, they have PCC brand fresh pasta. Honestly, I have not done a comparison between that and blister pack stuff at my other supermarket. I own many supermarkets, apparently. These are my supermarkets. Anyway, but it was lovely, it was really nice.


Matthew:

Yeah, I love shopping at Molly Mart, there's a great granola section, a few cheeses.


Molly:

What else is there?


Matthew:

The whole store is laid out in a cheese plate way, so you get to the most flavorful stuff at the back of the store.


Molly:

Yeah, is that where-


Matthew:

In terms of preserving the cold chain, it doesn't make a lot of sense, but.


Molly:

But it's so satisfying if you're me.


Matthew:

It's so satisfying when you finally get to that back corner and that's where the Gorgonzola is.


Molly:

The spicy things, yes.


Matthew:

Yeah, the spicy wings. Did you say spicy wings or spicy things?


Molly:

No, I said spicy things, but I wouldn't mind if Molly Mart had spicy wings.


Matthew:

Yes.


Molly:

God, why haven't we ever done an episode of planning our own grocery store and what it would carry? Our own fantasy.


Matthew:

Oh, this is great idea.


Molly:

Our own fantasy store, drawing on other stores-


Matthew:

Like-


Molly:

... and putting them all in one place.


Matthew:

11 things just clunked into my head as you said that. Okay.


Molly:

All right, Abby, put it on the list.


Matthew:

Next week, let's declare this right now. Next week we are doing our dream grocery stores.


Molly:

Okay, okay. I want to be clear that these dream grocery stores can include an extensive hot case, the world's fanciest soup bar.


Matthew:

Well, I have a guess as to what your store is going to include.


Molly:

Okay, all right, fine. Okay, but Matthew, wait.


Matthew:

Various truffled soups.


Molly:

Oh geez, that's not what I was talking about. I'm just saying, going on the regular grocery store layout.


Matthew:

Yeah, I totally know what you mean.


Molly:

Okay, so wait, Matthew, going back to memory lane for fresh pasta. I want to be sure and mention a restaurant that I know you and I have both enjoyed a lot in Seattle. It's called Spinasse, it's in your neighborhood. Their fresh pasta is exceptional.


Matthew:

Yes, I've never been to Italy. You've been to Italy, right?


Molly:

I have, I have. Actually, I remember not long after Spinasse opened, so god, this would've been a decade ago. A good friend of mine who I've been to Italy with, Winnie Yang, who lived for a while in Italy and worked for Slow Food and is just an incredible cook and eater. I took Winnie to Spinasse because I wanted to see what she thought of the pasta there compared to what she had had in the Piedmont in Italy. Anyway, she felt that it was some of the best Italian food she had had in the entire US.


Matthew:

Yeah, I wonder if they're doing takeout.


Molly:

Oh my god. I think of the... oh my gosh, Matthew, it has been so long since I have eaten in a restaurant. I don't remember basic things that I used to know, like-


Matthew:

Okay, the spoon is the round one, the fork is the pokey one, and then the spork is some of each.


Molly:

Do you order dessert first, or?


Matthew:

Oh, like if short, eat dessert first. Right?


Molly:

Okay, anyway, but no. Do you remember, so there's a timeless dish that never leaves the menu, this thin little noodles with either butter and sage or with a Ragu?


Matthew:

Oh yes.


Molly:

Is that Tajarin? Is that the name of that really thin pasta? It's almost like-


Matthew:

I think that is correct, which I think is Tagliolini and Tajarin and tagliatelle are all very, very similar, if not some identical overlap.


Molly:

But Tajarin is so thin.


Matthew:

Thinner than a tagliatelle, then?


Molly:

Yes, yes, it's almost heading toward angel hair. Yeah, anyway, clearly neither of us has been to Spinasse in a very long time but wow, we should.


Matthew:

Yes, if they do takeout. So years ago when I was writing for Seattle Magazine, I was doing this column called Chef Test, where I would recruit a local chef and we... chef-ed?


Molly:

Chef-ed?


Matthew:

I would recruit a local chef and we chef-ed. We would taste a bunch of one particular ingredient and pick a winner. We did a fresh pasta tasting and did a couple of local brands, including Pasta and Company, and supermarket brands, and so on. The Pasta and Company won by a wide margin, so I think it is a really good product.


Molly:

Great, okay. Well so Matthew, will you take us to Oklahoma City where pasta is from?


Matthew:

Gladly, okay. Picture it, 1986, Crescent Market.


Molly:

Nope, nope, it was a strip mall on May Avenue.


Matthew:

Nope, this surprise, it actually started at Crescent Market because that's the only thing I remember.


Molly:

It's where everything starts, okay.


Matthew:

So look into the eyes of the suit of armor and you'll be transported back to medieval times, which is when pasta... I mean, dried pasta and fresh pasta really have always been around at the same time. It's not like one of them long predated the others because fresh pasta is very easy to dry.


Molly:

Hold on, Ash just came in and I lost my concentration. Okay, oh what? You said something about something drying?


Matthew:

So fresh pasta and dried pasta have always been together, there wasn't a period when only one of them existed because we were waiting for people to invent the other one, because fresh pasta dries very easily, obviously.


Molly:

Oh yes, got it, okay.


Matthew:

So people understood that pasta could be dried for longer storage and preservation from day one of pasta, kind of. But when exactly day one of pasta was and what it looked like is not really understood by historians. So what we know and what we can say for sure is that-


Molly:

Wait, I was going to say, people talk about there's always a trivia question about pasta coming from China. Right?


Matthew:

Right, so pasta definitely has originated in multiple places. There's not really an inherent difference between Italian pasta and Chinese egg noodles. It's about the kneading and cutting process, and then what you sauce it with. So we're going to be focusing on Italy and the what's now called Italy but back then was part of the Roman Empire, I guess, or a bunch of different... boy, I should know more about the history of Italy, shouldn't I?


Molly:

The history of Italy is, I think, it would be a whole course of study that would take us a long time.


Matthew:

So check it out on the great courses plus, which has not [inaudible 00:19:45] the show in years and probably never will again.


Molly:

Wait, Matthew, we should do an episode on Chinese egg noodles.


Matthew:

Yeah, absolutely.


Molly:

I think that would be great.


Matthew:

I've made them.


Molly:

Oh cool.


Matthew:

Yeah, oh, that's a very good idea.


Molly:

Okay, all right. Okay, back to Italy.


Matthew:

Okay, so we know because there start to be lots of historical references to pasta and specific pasta shapes and dishes, in about the 13th century. Mass production in factories of pasta began in the first half of the 18th century.


Molly:

That's wild.


Matthew:

Yeah.


Molly:

Wow.


Matthew:

But before that, it didn't suddenly just pop up in 1250 or something, but before that the historical record gets really vague, in the sense that going back to BC, there is frequent mentions in the historical record of something called lagana, which is often discussed as an ancestor of pasta but all historians can agree on is that it was some kind of flattish fried dough, which doesn't really sound like pasta.


Molly:

Yeah, that doesn't.


Matthew:

According to Wikipedia, I'm mentioning this not because it really has anything to do with fresh pasta but just I love hearing about wacky ancient European recipes. Riding in the second century, Athenaeous of Naucratis provides a recipe for lagana, which he attributes to the first century crispus of Tiana. Sheets of dough made with wheat flour and the juice of crushed lettuce, then flavored with spices and deep fried in oil. I know, it's probably good because it's fried dough. What gave anyone the idea to crush a lettuce? I think it was probably some sort of fetish.


Molly:

Did you notice that fetish and lettuce-


Matthew:

It rhymes with lettuce?


Molly:

... almost rhyme?


Matthew:

Yeah.


Molly:

Fetish and lettish.


Matthew:

Yep.


Molly:

I wonder if my CSA box, which I'll be picking up shortly next Tuesday, is-


Matthew:

We're recording this on, no, Monday. Sorry.


Molly:

Is... I know, I got-


Matthew:

[crosstalk 00:21:47] Thursday.


Molly:

I got a little confused because I was like, oh, I'm going to pick up with CSA box tomorrow. Then I remembered this episode is coming out on Thursday, but anyway.


Matthew:

Oh, that's what made me think Thursday.


Molly:

I wonder if I'm going to be getting any lettuce so I could try making this special lagana from Crispus of Tiana.


Matthew:

Yes, yeah, if you get lettuce and you've got some flour, you're all set.


Molly:

Crush it, okay.


Matthew:

And oil.


Molly:

You need some spices. What spices should I throw in?


Matthew:

Oh, old school all spice.


Molly:

Oh, mace.


Matthew:

Mace, grains of paradise.


Molly:

Mulling spices.


Matthew:

Mulling, yes. A big sack of mulling spices. Just leave them in the sack and knead it into the dough. Yeah, if you're the one who gets the sack buried in the lagana, that's seven years of good luck. [inaudible 00:22:43]. They call it getting the sack. I thought I had something new to add to that, but it turned out I didn't.


Molly:

Getting the sack. If you get the sack of mulling spices in the lagana, oh boy. Okay, I can't wait to make this. I'll keep you guys posted.


Matthew:

So I mentioned drying pasta is easy. I used to have one of those... I think we can post a link to a photo of it in the show notes, which you can find in your podcast player. One of those plastic novelty pasta drying racks that spins out, it has a bunch of horizontal rods. So when you're making your linguini or whatever, you hang it over one of the rods. Then when it's full you hang it over the next rod. They fan out so that the drying noodles aren't touching each other.


Molly:

You know, Matthew-


Matthew:

I got rid of it.


Molly:

Yeah, I'm not surprised. I feel like it's maybe part of a family of non mechanical appliances or the tools that also includes a ball winder, which you use-


Matthew:

A what?


Molly:

A ball winder. So if you've ever gone into a yarn store or bought yarn for knitting or crocheting or anything like that.


Matthew:

I went into a fabric store with you, I don't know if I've ever been into... no, I have been into a yarn store.


Molly:

Well, so-


Matthew:

I've been to Stitches.


Molly:

So most of the time the way that yarn is sold is in a form where if you're actually knitting with it, it's very easy for it to get tangled or unravel or get everywhere. So you can ask the yarn store to wind your yarn into a ball for you.


Matthew:

Oh wow.


Molly:

Yeah, and it's this device that it's two parts, one looks like a part umbrella part clothes drying rack. Then the other thing looks like-


Matthew:

Part umbrella?


Molly:

... a spindle.


Matthew:

Part clothes drying rack?


Molly:

Anyway, you turn this crank and the yarn goes flying off of the umbrella, clothes drying rack thing, onto the spindle. It's very satisfying and basically looks nothing like the device that you're describing but I feel like whoever invented the rotating spaghetti rack thing maybe invented a ball winder too.


Matthew:

This sounds like something Rumpelstiltskin would operate.


Molly:

It absolutely, absolutely.


Matthew:

It sounds great.


Molly:

Yeah, no you should-


Matthew:

What's the story of Rumpelstiltskin? I don't remember. It was Rumpelstiltskin weaving straw into gold or is that something else?


Molly:

Yeah, there's something about gold.


Matthew:

There's always something about gold.


Molly:

Yeah, okay.


Matthew:

People used to be really into gold. Good thing no one cares about that anymore.


Molly:

All right, so what is fresh pasta, Matthew? How do you make this stuff?


Matthew:

I'm glad we're going to get into what is fresh pasta, 30 minutes into the show.


Molly:

Okay, go on.


Matthew:

Fresh pasta is typically made with eggs and a soft wheat flour. I say a soft wheat flour because as opposed to commercial dried pasta, which is made with very hard durum wheat, semolina flour, and usually no eggs.


Molly:

Okay, did you read the book, Bill Buford's Heat?


Matthew:

Yes, Bill Buford's Heat, I don't remember who the author of that was, but Bill Buford's Heat's a great book.


Molly:

[inaudible 00:26:03] Matthew. Anyway, do you remember how, oh my god, I finally just put it down and stopped reading it at the point at which he was on this die hard quest to find out at what point eggs were introduced into pasta.


Matthew:

Yes, I remember.


Molly:

I was like, who the fuck cares? I moved on.


Matthew:

Also the book, I swear, what's when you paint someone as a saint? Is it a philippic or a panegyric or something?


Molly:

Something.


Matthew:

Now who's got the big words, right? To Mario Batali, which-


Molly:

Yeah, very problematic.


Matthew:

Maybe they can rerelease the book with all of those pages cut out.


Molly:

Maybe they could also cut out the whole part where Bill Buford is basically worried about nothing in life except when eggs were introduced into pasta dough.


Matthew:

God, I wish I could be in a position where I didn't have anything to worry about other than who put an egg in a pasta.


Molly:

Right?


Matthew:

Right?


Molly:

I mean sign me up, yes. All right, go on.


Matthew:

Yeah, so that's basically what fresh pasta is. It's a very, very simple dough made with eggs and flour. Then is kneaded and rolled out usually into a flat shape by hand or a machine.


Molly:

Okay, and-


Matthew:

Does it have to be a flat shape? No, you can also make fresh Orecchiete, we'll get to that.


Molly:

Oh, great. Wow, okay. You can also extrude things.


Matthew:

You can also extrude things, absolutely. The fresh pasta that I ate the other day in preparation for this episode is actually an extruded fresh pasta made locally in Seattle without eggs.


Molly:

Oh, okay. So wait, Matthew, are there particular regions in Italy that are known for pasta? Because when pasta came about in Italy as we hinted at, it wasn't Italy yet, so.


Matthew:

Right, so fresh pasta and dried pasta are both widely eaten throughout Italy, but the places in Italy that are especially known for fresh pasta are Piedmont and Emilia Romagna in Northern Italy. So-


Molly:

Thinking Bologna here.


Matthew:

Yeah, and often these places they will often make a fresh pasta with just egg yolks as the liquid, so it's super yellow and rich. It's the Italy of Lynne Rossetto Kasper's book, the Splendid Table, which is a fantastic book full of lots of recipes that you do want to make and lots of recipes of historical interest or high complexity that you probably don't want to make but will enjoy reading about. When I think fresh pasta, I think of a tagliatelles Bolognese made with really rich pasta and a really rich sauce.


Molly:

Oh, sign me up.


Matthew:

Then topped with cheese.


Molly:

So do you ever make fresh pasta at home because I don't.


Matthew:

I have done it a few times. So years ago for my birthday, Christmas, maybe? I think Christmas, when we were living in New York, wife of the show Lori went to Bridge Kitchenware and got me a pasta maker which I had for many years and used maybe 10 times and did not survive a purge in the last few years.


Molly:

I think it's really impressive that you used it 10 times. I'm going to put that out there.


Matthew:

I mean, it has to be... I don't think it can be the kind of thing that you do only once a year because first of all, the machine gets all dusty if you're not using it regularly. Then the dust gets onto the pasta and it's gross. It's-


Molly:

Wait, have you actually gotten dust on your pasta?


Matthew:

Yes, absolutely.


Molly:

Oh man.


Matthew:

It's a serious problem because how do you clean those rollers, especially at the edges? It's tough. Also, it's a thing that benefits from practice and doing it often and recognizing how many more times you need to fold it over and put it back through the machine until it's kneaded to the proper texture. Getting the right amount of flour on it but not too much so that it doesn't stick, but doesn't get gummy. Like another noodle dish we talked about recently Pad Thai. It's something that is worth mastering but is not going to be great the very first time you make it.


Molly:

Yes, that makes sense. So I made fresh pasta exactly once that I can remember.


Matthew:

Oh, let's hear about it.


Molly:

It was long enough ago that my father was still alive. I remember it was either a summer when I was in college or maybe it was the summer before I went off to college, but I had gotten solidly into cooking by this point, which I didn't really do until maybe my junior or senior year of high school. I remember, so my parents grew a few vegetables out in the backyard in the summer time. My dad was really good at growing tomatoes, possibly just because Oklahoma is really hot and good for growing tomatoes.


Matthew:

Well, also because after he invented Endive, tomatoes are pretty easy by comparison.


Molly:

That's true. You don't even have to have a root cellar. Wait a minute.


Matthew:

Yeah, you don't have to bury anything.


Molly:

You don't have to bury anything. Anyway, they would also grow arugula, although that tended to get very peppery in the heat in Oklahoma.


Matthew:

Sounds good to me.


Molly:

Then they would also grow basil. I remember my dad teaching me how to make pesto, I think using a James Beard recipe. We made pesto, and then we decided to make fresh pasta to eat the pesto on. We did not have a pasta roller so we rolled it out by hand with a rolling pin and-


Matthew:

Yeah, which you can absolutely do, whether or not you're an Italian grandma, which is the only type of person I've ever seen do this in a photo.


Molly:

Yeah, I mean I think that the tricky thing for a lot of us at least, is that rolling it out by hand, somehow you just need more space than you usually do when you're rolling out pie dough or something like that, because you got to get this stuff real thin. Certainly, you can cut it... what am I saying? You could cut it into portions and roll out the portions separately, but what I remember is, so my parents had a butcher block island that was actually usually covered with mail but we uncovered half of it and rolled out the pasta. I remember rolling it out, I don't remember, again, eating it. Like I said, I remember touching fresh pasta, not so much eating it.


Matthew:

Do you remember touching it after it was cooked?


Molly:

I think I put it in my mouth.


Matthew:

Okay.


Molly:

I touched it with my tongue.


Matthew:

Exactly.


Molly:

Sensuous, sensual?


Matthew:

So it was probably good. I think both.


Molly:

So people talk about making it by making the well in the middle and slowly working in the flour, but you can also make it in food processor, right?


Matthew:

Totally.


Molly:

I mean I think that's-


Matthew:

Or a stand mixer.


Molly:

I think that's what my dad and I did. Maybe not a food processor, maybe we used a stand mixer.


Matthew:

No, I think you can in a food processor also, although it's a very firm dough. Not a lot of liquid to flour and so it could possibly gum up your food processor.


Molly:

Yeah, that makes sense.


Matthew:

Yeah, I imagine the making and well and beating the eggs in the well of flour thing probably doesn't really make any difference but looks cool.


Molly:

Well, it's interesting because, so fresh pasta, whenever we make any kind of dough we have to think about how much gluten we want to develop in it or not.


Matthew:

Right.


Molly:

Right? So it seems to me that you're going to develop the gluten more in a stand mixer or a food processor, however, we're trying to keep fresh pasta tender. Right?


Matthew:

Well, but-


Molly:

So maybe that is why you would mix it by hand? Because it's harder to overwork it?


Matthew:

This is a good question.


Molly:

You don't want it to fight back, especially not when you're rolling it out, you want the gluten to be pretty undeveloped. You're using a low gluten flour to start with, traditionally.


Matthew:

That's true. Wow, I don't know the answer because, but you don't want it to be so low that it has a cake-y, crumbly texture.


Molly:

No, no, no, but think about Italian double zero flour. Isn't that what is traditionally used for making pasta? It's a lower gluten flour than American all purpose.


Matthew:

Well, I think but it depends though, because there are higher and lower protein double zero flours because that's how finely the flour is ground. That's what the double zero is.


Molly:

Matthew, why don't you just let me keep looking like I know what I'm doing over here? I was on a roll for a minute there. Seeming like the expert.


Matthew:

[crosstalk 00:34:20] learned this myself recently. But I don't know the answer.


Molly:

Then you had to come along.


Matthew:

Do you have Harold McGee's number?


Molly:

I seem to remember from back in the early days of the Food Network, when David Rosengarten had that show, Taste. Do you remember this?


Matthew:

Yes, oh yeah, I loved that.


Molly:

Around this time, again, Mario Batali, who is an extremely problematic person. I remember watching him make fresh pasta a lot. I do think that I learned about not wanting to overdevelop the gluten.


Matthew:

Yeah, no I think that does sound right.


Molly:

Right?


Matthew:

I agree with what you said.


Molly:

Great.


Matthew:

I'm going to have to pull out my microscope, my scanning tunneling electron microscope and toss some pasta in there.


Molly:

Did you say scanning tunneling?


Matthew:

I think that's a thing.


Molly:

Wow, that sounds exciting. It sounds like you're going to undertake a new tunneling project here in Seattle.


Matthew:

Oh, that's a good idea.


Molly:

Yeah, the big dig.


Matthew:

Yeah, we should start some sort of big dig.


Molly:

We should.


Matthew:

Not as a public works project, but just you and I.


Molly:

I'm thinking.


Matthew:

Because we live maybe four miles from each other? Something like that?


Molly:

Yeah, I would really like to have a way to get to you that doesn't involve driving my car or you having to get on pubic transportation.


Matthew:

Yeah, and we're going to be in this pandemic for a while. Let's, I mean, of course all we have it-


Molly:

Why don't you get out your microscope and see if it has a tunneling feature?


Matthew:

Okay, I was just going to start digging and see what happens and head basically in your direction.


Molly:

Okay, okay great. Let me know when you drown under Lake Union.


Matthew:

That's a good point. I'll just have to go deeper, below the aquifer.


Molly:

Okay, great. So I will be recording Spilled Milk by myself during that time while Matthew is tunneling.


Matthew:

Basically, what I'm trying to do is pull some sort of Shawshank Redemption.


Molly:

Oh my god, yes, you need a Sophia Loren poster.


Matthew:

Yeah, I think-


Molly:

And Beau Derrick.


Matthew:

Oh wait, were there multiple posters?


Molly:

Yeah, the posters changed over time because he was in there for so many years.


Matthew:

I totally forgot that. Yeah, now I was going to say, who would today's be but I think maybe a Jason Mamoa poster.


Molly:

I don't know who that is.


Matthew:

He's a big, handsome actor.


Molly:

Oh okay. I love the thought that the Tim Robbins would be gay or queer in that movie and would alternate between putting up Beau Derrick posters and then, I don't know, a poster of Matt Bomer or something like that.


Matthew:

Yeah, Matt Bomer.


Molly:

You don't know who that is do you?


Matthew:

No, I don't.


Molly:

[crosstalk 00:37:07].


Matthew:

It sounds like one letter away from boner-


Molly:

Or maybe it's Matt Bomer. It does, I know.


Matthew:

... which is pretty funny.


Molly:

I could be Matt Bomer, but it's B-O-M-E-R, which to me means Bomer.


Matthew:

I'm going to assume this is an actor from a show I haven't watched?


Molly:

He's an actor from I think a lot of shows, but I'm most familiar with him from a recent season of Sinner. Anyway, but I was thrilled to discover recently that he's gay. I didn't realize that he was gay. He's so handsome, it's too much really. That's something that I have a lot more patience with if you're gay than if you're straight. I'll be honest.


Matthew:

This guy looks a little like John Mayer to me.


Molly:

To me he also looks a lot like Chris Cornell.


Matthew:

Okay, but yeah, I see what you mean. I like the idea that in our queer... am I allowed to say that word?


Molly:

The Shawshank Redemption? I think if you're not using it in a derogatory term it's okay with me.


Matthew:

Okay, Shawshank Redemption reboot that the rest of the prisoners just never even comment on this, it's just totally cool. Right?


Molly:

Right, right? I love that. I love that, okay. All right. I can't wait to see Tim Robbins redo this, and Morgan Freeman.


Matthew:

Yes, and let's get Matt Bomer and Jason Mamoa in there.


Molly:

Cool.


Matthew:

Who's another pretty actress? I don't know, everything I know-


Molly:

I don't know.


Matthew:

... is from years ago.


Molly:

What if we get Catherine O'Hara in there? Let's just mix-


Matthew:

What if we do that.


Molly:

... everything up. Everyone is fair game.


Matthew:

Okay wait, I see where you're going with this. It's going to be the Shawshank Redemption as if it was made by Christopher Guest.


Molly:

Yes.


Matthew:

Right?


Molly:

Oh my god, yes.


Matthew:

Interview segments.


Molly:

I cannot wait to see the Eugene Levy poster.


Matthew:

I mean, I know the Shawshank Redemption already has voiceover. Yes, yes, but Eugene Levy saying, "Yeah, things were not great in that prison." Then dropping a one-liner.


Molly:

It's going to be great.


Matthew:

Yep.


Molly:

Okay, so Matthew, what-


Matthew:

But the food was surprisingly good.


Molly:

What dishes really benefit from going the extra mile with fresh pasta?


Matthew:

Okay, I think anything filled. So a tortellini, a ravioli, a tortelloni, toretelli. I think these are all real pasta shapes. And [crosstalk 00:39:34]-


Molly:

Jia Tolentino.


Matthew:

A Jia Tolentino.


Molly:

Yep.


Matthew:

Wow, I've heard that name but I don't know who that is, but I'm going to say it's an actor.


Molly:

She's a great writer, actually.


Matthew:

Okay, oh okay, yeah I've seen the [inaudible 00:39:45]. All right, yeah, so if you're making a Jia Tolentino, for sure, go for fresh pasta. Lasagna, absolutely. I usually no boil noodles for lasagna which are also pretty good, but when I can get fresh pasta it really makes your lasagna.


Molly:

Wow, I feel like no boil noodles are the antonym of fresh pasta to go back to the beginning of the show. Get it?


Matthew:

I know, and yet you soak them for a little bit. I don't actually make them no boil style, like putting the dry pasta directly into the dish before baking it. I soak them in warm water and it comes out not super different from fresh pasta.


Molly:

Wow, what about when you make bolognese? Do you feel like you need to go get some fresh pasta or make fresh pasta if you've made bolognese?


Matthew:

I think bolognese is great with everything, so I don't feel like I have to but it really is special with a fresh tagliatelle or fettuccine.


Molly:

Yeah, I so badly just want somebody else to make this for me.


Matthew:

I know, it is that kind of thing. Luckily in Seattle and probably where you live also, there are some artisan fresh pasta makers. In Seattle, there's La Pasta, which sells at farmers markets largely. Pasta and Company, which we already mentioned. Lagana, which was the name of the dish with the fried lettuce dough, but also is the name of a local fresh pasta company. They make southern Italian style fresh pasta, which is more likely to be extruded and is just like commercial dried pasta that just hasn't been dried. So I got their campanelle, and it was great.


Molly:

Campanelle, remind me about what those are.


Matthew:

They're a little ruffle-y sheet that's been rolled up into a cone.


Molly:

That sounds right, okay I get it.


Matthew:

I think campanelle means little bells, but they don't really look like bells. They look more like tulips, kind of.


Molly:

Okay, and what did you sauce it with?


Matthew:

So I had some Uli's Italian sausage, which his very good. I had a funny exchange with the clerk at the Central Coop when I bought the pasta and the sausage, in that she picked up the sausage and said, "I love this stuff. This is so good. I'm not supposed to eat pork, but I can't stop eating this."


Molly:

That's adorable.


Matthew:

I was like, yeah, it's tasty. I did the Italian sausage, butter, I had some Kerrygold salted Irish butter. Olive oil, Parmesan Reggiano, garlic, and fresh thyme, which we have on our balcony.


Molly:

Oh my god, that sounds fantastic.


Matthew:

It was really good. Teenager of the show, Iris, who likes to eat basically all the same things as well, doesn't really like pasta. Now, isn't big on tomato sauce unless it's homemade. Just thinks of any pasta dish as blah and probably has some vegetable in it that they don't like, but they loved this and ate the leftovers for lunch the next day.


Molly:

I'm-


Matthew:

Because of the texture of the pasta.


Molly:

I am still just absolutely... I'm trying to absorb the information that Iris doesn't really like pasta.


Matthew:

I know.


Molly:

I don't know what to do with that.


Matthew:

Yeah, I mean your kid likes pasta, right?


Molly:

My kid loves pasta. I don't know anybody who doesn't like pasta.


Matthew:

I was talking to... who was it I was talking to about this? Oh, it must have been someone at work. We recently had our online corporate retreat at work and as part of it we did this activity that I really enjoyed. This icebreaker.com, or something. I don't think that's actually the website, but it's I think called icebreaker where everyone gets in a chatroom and then it pairs you up for a five minute video chat. Then at the end of the five minutes you fade out into nothingness. It's really funny. Then it repeats and so you get to meet coworkers that you maybe haven't talked to before.


Matthew:

One person I was talking to, we agreed that we really wished that the real world was like the matrix. Not in the sense of being in a pod while aliens suck our juices or whatever happened in that movie, although when I put it that way that sounds good too. But the part where Keanu Reeves gets injected with Kung Fu through a port in the back of his head and then he knows Kung Fu. We really wish we could learn new skills without having to do the learning part. Where was I going with this?


Matthew:

Oh, so maybe it wouldn't be just new skills but also if there's something you don't like but you should, you can just get that injected through your neck port. So I could install the loves pasta module into my kid.


Molly:

Yeah, [inaudible 00:44:29]. That sounds great.


Matthew:

Yeah, this would definitely not be abused in any way.


Molly:

No, definitely not. Uh-uh (negative).


Matthew:

Right.


Molly:

Okay, wow. I'm going to be chewing on this for a long time, Matthew.


Matthew:

Speaking of learning martial arts, I was saying, I have not been really getting any exercise lately. I was doing yoga for a while but then I kept stretching wrong and hurting myself. So I'm like, I'm going to take a break from this. When you take a break from exercise, it becomes a break of indefinite duration. So I'm like, okay, I'm feeling like a real slug, I want to get back into exercise but then when I looked for non yoga things, it was all super ripped guy teaching calisthenics or a weight loss thing or something that didn't seem right for me in one way or another.


Matthew:

Then wife of the show, Lori, was like, "Hey, we've been watching that show Cobra Kai. What if there's a 30 days of karate on YouTube?" I'm like, this sounds great. I've been looking around, I think I may do 30 days of kung fu.


Molly:

This sounds like a great choice, Matthew.


Matthew:

It's got to be low impact, right?


Molly:

No comment.


Matthew:

A 45 year old man who thinks he can do kung fu, what could go wrong?


Molly:

Nothing, nothing could go wrong. Nothing.


Matthew:

Thank you, I appreciate your vote of confidence. I will keep you and the listeners apprised of my journey.


Molly:

Okay, great.


Matthew:

Plus, I can put any color belt I want, it's my house.


Molly:

Then you can say, "I know kung fu."


Matthew:

Yes, exactly.


Molly:

Or whatever, however it was that he said it.


Matthew:

I'm planning to just say that after the third video.


Molly:

Great, okay. All right, well you found us already so thank you for finding us.


Matthew:

Yeah, we're not on social media anymore because we hate Facebook and there really isn't an alternative. You can find me on Twitter @mamster, I'll reply to you. I still participate in that for some reason.


Molly:

Yeah, that's fascinating, Matthew.


Matthew:

If you want to get in touch with us, we are not in the near future going to have a way for you to be able to comment on episodes on our site. I know we used to offer that and we had to redo our website on short notice and that feature did not make the cut, but you can always get in touch with us, [email protected] We'd love to hear from you. Your email will probably go to me directly and I'll write back. Please be nice.


Molly:

Yeah, please be nice.


Matthew:

Our producer is Abby Cerquitella, and go vote.


Molly:

Go vote.


Matthew:

Or vote in the comfort of your own home and drop it in the mail.


Molly:

Yes, and we'll see you on the other side. Thanks for listening to Spilled Milk.


Matthew:

Set us out to dry on a rack.


Molly:

I'm Molly Wizenberg.


Matthew:

I'm Matthew Amster-Burton.


Molly:

Matthew, what I want you to see here is not only this bear sitting peacefully in the middle of a river, but I want you to see in the foreground, the sheer number of salmon. It is like a salmon party.


Matthew:

Okay, yeah no I looked at this before and I saw bears but not salmon.


Molly:

Are you looking at-


Matthew:

I'm pulling it up now. Wow, oh, but these bears. Okay wait, no, they're eating the salmon. Oh yeah, I just... oh wow.


Molly:

Isn't this so cool?


Matthew:

Oh yes.


Molly:

This is extremely cool.


Matthew:

I just saw a bear eat a fish.


Molly:

No, no, this goes on.


Matthew:

No, I-


Molly:

This goes on all day.


Matthew:

No, I see the salmon party but then in the background there's the bear putting a fish in its mouth.