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Mar 16, 2010 04:25 PM

Done with Pasta

Has anyone else just given up eating something they've always eaten their entire life? In the past six months, I've basically given up pasta. I realized about a year ago that I was so sick of most tomato based sauces. Not that they are necesarily bad, but just all in all boring. Don't get me wrong a good ragu, bolognese, etc is amazing, but just the plain jane Sunday sauce (I refuse to call it gravy). It just seems to me that when eating any pasta dish, even my favorite penne vodke, the least delectable aspect of the dish is the actual pasta. Even fresh pasta doesn't do it for me anymore. Now I can sit and eat a delicious penne sauce, chock full of chopped up prosciutto and dunk bread, broccoli, even chicken into it and be happy, but the pasta craving is gone. Even when dining out, if I try someone else's that they are hemming and hawing about, I'll grin and say, yeah, good sauce. Is it just me or is pasta just well, pasta?

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    1. re: linguafood

      +1 with the above comment! lol
      I could live on pasta with just about any sauce...but I did make an amazing gravy just the other night. Yes, we call it gravy in my family!

        1. re: linguafood

          place jfood on the bandwagin...just you

          1. re: jfood

            can't argue with that. it's you.

            1. re: Davwud

              It is absolutely you, but their is nothing wrong with that if you don,t like it you don't like it
              I always say don't yuck someones yum that works both ways

              1. re: pikiliz

                oh my gosh, what a great saying - either way. Love it.

          2. Well, pasta is a dish normally best served at home than in a restaurant, except restaurants truly devoted to treating pasta with care (which is the exception rather than the norm - for most places, it's just a guaranteed mediocre money-maker).

            For me, the pasta is the center of the action - the sauce is the condiment.

            13 Replies
            1. re: Karl S

              If there were such a thing, I'd agree with you 110%! I can only STRONGLY second that.

              1. re: Karl S

                Karl I will agree with you that it is much better served at home. Restaurants tend to go a little crazy with portions of pasta and have a sauce that's lacking or vice versa, but with all due respect. If you think the sauce is nothing more than a condiment, I have to question the sauces you're eating.

                1. re: jhopp217

                  What I mean by condiment is that I want to be able to taste the pasta through the sauce. I make beautiful sauces, I might add: carbonara (the egg yolk, no cream kind), cacio e pepe, amatriciana, Hazan's tomato-butter-onion, pesto (dressed the right way), and a ragu bolognese that has earned many plaudits as the go-to over the years on the Home Cooking Board and its predecessors.....

                  Now, I do find that people, in their zeal for sauce uber alles (Italians would appreciate the use of the Teutonic tongue for this barbarism), tend to mistreat pasta. First, they don't get decent pasta. Second, they don't match the pasta to the sauce. Third, they don't cook it correctly (in very well salted water - if you're cooking your pasta in unsalted water and wonder why it tastes bland, you have your answer right there; and al dente, finished in many (not all) cases in the sauce). Fourth, they don't serve it correctly: for many sauces, pasta needs to be served on warmed plates for best effect. Fifth, they often serve too much at once. Sixth and finally, they reheat pasta leftovers (see #5 preceding) in the microwave (ugh - a recipe for mushiness unless done with extreme care and restraint). Restaurants typically par cook their pasta for efficiency, which leads to mediocre pasta that most people tolerate if it's oversauced....

                  Pasta is easy to cook...and even easier to mistreat.

                  And now that I've ranted from my throne, I will add: So let it be written! So let it be done! (Anne Baxter swishes menacingly in the background)

                  1. re: Karl S

                    These are lessons I've learned from you and Chowhound, Batali, Hazan, etc. and it's made all the difference in the world in my pasta making.
                    PS: I use whole eggs (no cream) in carbonara; do you use only the yolks?
                    PPS: Could you give me a link to your bolognese ragu please and thank you.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      Per PS: You can use whole eggs - it's a little more difficult because of the egg whites to prevent scrambling - some use one egg white and multiple yolks (I've done that, too)

                      Per PPS: Eight years ago -


                      1. re: Karl S

                        Thanks for the recipe. My stash in the freezer is getting low so I'll make this next time.

                        I haven't had the scrambling problem although I can see it happen. I mix the eggs and cheese and parsley and pepper well together before adding the pasta. And the oil, bacon, wine goes in after that. (I do the exact Hazan recipe) I just made this a few nights ago for an 85 y.o. friend. She'd never had it before and was just bowled over by it. I'm going to send her instruction for a half recipe. She doesn't cook much that's complicated anymore but she's certainly up to this.
                        Thanks, Karl.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          Does Marcella add wine? Interesting -- that's new to me. However, one does add some of the reserved pasta cooking water (well salted, by the way) to add moisture and creaminess.

                          1. re: MartinDC

                            Yep, wine. Here's the recipe:


                            No water. Has never been necessary.

                    2. re: Karl S

                      The tip about VERY well salted water has made a significant improvement in my pasta dishes, so I just wanted to say thanks for the tip!

                      1. re: cosmogrrl

                        Shh, don't tell him but he's one of my heroes :)

                    3. re: jhopp217

                      In Italy, the sauce is indeed a condiment! Pasta is not supposed to be swimming in sauce, it should just barely cover the strands (or whatever shape) of the pasta being served. There is a word in Italian "condire;" this means "to dress or flavor." It is used when speaking about pasta.

                      And if you have premium pasta, whether it is homemade or store bought, fresh or dried, then the pasta is no longer just a "vehicle" for the sauce, but an equal partner in the dish.

                      1. re: ttoommyy

                        I would say even merely "good" pasta (for dried, I mean DeCecco/Barilla/Ronzoni,e.g.) is a partner. Premium pasta can be a star it its own right.

                        1. re: ttoommyy

                          I heard Mario Batali suggest that you dress pasta like you dress salad. That has become my guiding principle. To me loosing the taste for pasta would be like loosing the will to live too depressing to consider.

                    4. I get you. Pasta is just a vehicle and a somewhat boring vehicle at that. Maybe its supposed to be boring so that it doesn't conflict with the sauce, dunno. But as far as I'm concerned bread dunk or anything else dunk away.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: marys1000

                        No, no, no :) As Karl S said, the pasta is the point. Make it good or don't have it.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          Agreed. It's the SAUCE I can skip. My 18 year old daughter really knows her pasta dishes. She's always inventing a new "twist" and never, ever over-sauces. Recently, she whipped up--in a flash--the most delicious spaghetti with just romano cheese, oil-cured black olives, roasted red peppers and garlic. The spaghetti was the star; the other ingredients played supporting (clinging ;-) roles. That's the way is should be!

                      2. i agree with you .latly pasta to me is boring ,dosint mater whats on it.maybe need a break from it eh

                        1. I enjoy pasta so much that sometimes I'll have it with just a dash of salt and some chopped garlic.

                          So, yeah, like the posters up thread ... it's just you.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: ipsedixit

                            When I cook pasta, I'm half full by the time I actually get to serving the dish, from sneaking tastes of the plain pasta. There's just something so basic and yummy about it, like good bread.

                            1. re: Sooeygun

                              Glad I'm not the only one. When I cook, I have it plain, taste it as I sauce/flavor it, and am happy full by the time I serve it. I like it w/ salt, garlic but also need olive oil.

                              1. re: Sooeygun

                                I agree Sooeygun! Like good bread... I usually have a small serving of pasta with sauce, followed up by a larger serving with just butter and salt n pepper. Yummy.!