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Jan 4, 2014 04:15 AM

Oil in pasta water yes or no?

The other day I once again saw GR put oil on top of the boiling pasta water.
What's with him?
Oil will coat the pasta and not allow the sauce to be absorbed into the pasta........which is the point of adding a bit of enhance the pasta flavor.
If he did that in any Italian restaurant I'm guessing he'd be fired.
I'm waiting for him to watch some poor cooking competition competitor to make pasta and not add any oil. LOL
What's Ramsey going to do? Scream his head off?
Is it a 'British' thing? I've seen him do this a few times and each time a voice in my head says: "This is why the English/Irish/Scottish have such a poor reputation for cooking crappy food".

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  1. I've also seen Ina do that. I don't get it. Oil on the pasta as a finishing garnish, maybe but not in the water!!

    1. Putting oil in pasta water is a bit pointless as it just floats to the top and I wouldn't have thought it would coat that much pasta. I'm English and it's not a British thing as far as I'm aware.
      The poor reputation (which is now woefully out of date) is due in part to Britain being the first country to industrialise ,and WWII and it effects on food consumption and production. One celebrity chef cooking on tv is not the reason.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Paprikaboy

        I'm not understanding the connection/s you are making between being the first country to industrialize and how/where the cuisine of Britain got to where it is today.
        Ditto re. the WW11 connection. That was over half a century ago.
        Having lived in Britain I could never grasp why, for example, the sea's bounty around Britain was basically sent to other countries and not used by the 'Brits'.
        I agree things are changing for the better though.
        I'm not trying to get into the weeds with this. Just a bit more clarification please.

        1. re: Puffin3

          In terms of Industrialisation this pulled a large number of people from the country into the cities. As in the cities there was nowhere to grow food and very few people had ovens. Therefore the link between food people and food prodction and to some extent preparation was broken in the UK before anywhere else.
          During WWII a large amount of food production was centralised. For example only 1 kind of cheese could be produced. This was a mass produced industrialised product. This lead to a loss of skills and many cheese makers never returned to making cheese after WWII. Only in the last decade or so has there been a renaissance in British cheese making.I think many of the predjudices of British food eminate from just after the war.

          The fish thing has always puzzled me. Some people blame Henry VIII and the break of the church from Rome. This gave the excuse for there to be meat eaten on days that were reserved for fish only and so fish consumption went down. I don't really buy that.

          1. re: Paprikaboy

            Part of the collapse of the British farming system was the other way around - the market was hit with cheaper foodstuffs from the vast, rich farmlands of North America, coinciding with a series of very bad growing seasons locally. So a lot of people people left for the cities because staying on the farms meant starving.

      2. Never in the water... it's is pointless for exactly the reasons you mention. I cannot fathom why anyone does this.

        1. Remember Alton B doing an elaborate experiment on this topic. He cooked spaghetti in certain amoutn of water with certain amount of oil added (maybe a T or so). When done, poured into this draining gadget that had a LONG tube at the top,,, held all the pasta AND water, so oil could settle to top. Then he did some mathematical calculations (volume of cylinder formula required). IIRC, almost ALL of specific amount of oil remaiined behind!?!

          This is one of those cooking questions that never seems to get a 100% definitive answer?? Along with things like... mushrooms (wash or don't wash), alcohol (does it cook out or not), boiliing water (from cold or hot).

          6 Replies
          1. re: kseiverd

            Not clear, remained behind in the pasta?

            1. re: kseiverd

              Why would you NOT wash mushrooms? I understand don't soak but the ones I get usually have at least a little dirt.

              No to oil in pasta water. I tried it a few times and didn't detect a benefit.

              1. re: tcamp

                I would gladly shoot the first idiot who
                advised against washing mushrooms!

                1. re: sandylc

                  I've seen a lot of chefs recommend not to wash them since their skin is so delicate.

                  I've also seen chefs say make sure you wash them really well because they're filthy.

                  1. re: nothingswrong

                    IT'S A MYTH. WASH your mushrooms. Silly not to.

              2. re: kseiverd

                Don't forget the soak/don't soak Dried Bean

              3. The theory is that it prevents clumping of the pasta. I really don't know if it makes a difference. I have cooked both ways,

                2 Replies
                1. re: law_doc89

                  So have I. The theory being the pasta wouldn't clump together and the pasta was fine. Have done without too - also fine.

                  1. re: law_doc89

                    Oil in the water was how I first learned, and as you say it was to keep the strands from clumping. What changed my mind was someone pointing out that oil-coated pasta won't absorb water very well. Either way, I've quit.