Ask the Italian (He’s ready for you)

Pasta? Panini? Pizza? Thought Italian food was familiar and you knew all about it? Think again.

cambridge food Cambridge food column cambridge foodies Cambridge Italians cambridge life Cambridge Tab Food Column Cambridge University italian food Italian food in Cambridge

Last week I've got some of you to submit some of the burning questions that you had about Italian cuisine. I've managed to capture an Italian for some answers (and an authentic recipe that can't go wrong). FYI, all Italian responses are in italics.

Starting with…

Crimes against Italian food:

People who put salt after the pasta has cooked. You're supposed to salt the water while the pasta's boiling.

Putting pesto on anything that isn't pasta (I'm guilty of this. Love pesto in sandwiches too much tbh. As long as you don't label it as Italian you're fine…)

Eating spaghetti, cutting it with a knife and fork (which I've always found bizarre…if the concern is not being able to consume in one mouthful why not just go for something like penne? Or anything shorter than a strand of spaghetti?)

Following Sainsbury's instructions for pasta cooking time. After 10 minutes it's not pasta. It's soup. Go for 6-8 minutes for that al dente finish.

Calmly cooking pasta whilst I bombard him with questions. Still calm even after the ones below:

Can pizzas make a good masturbation aid?

Given the heinous things British people do to pizza…I would say yes, that is possible.

Is there any way to clean my pizza cutter other than licking it?

………..(continues cooking) C: *ahem* it's okay I'll take over

Just clean as you would any other utensil with your preferred washing-up liquid and a sponge…unless your preferred way of sterilising your eating utensils is licking them clean. If you're a dog whose saliva has anti-bacterial qualities I'd say go for it.

WTF is Antipasti? Am I supposed to eat that AND Primo AND Secondi??

Antipasti is just appetiser, in a restaurant you'd normally order an antipasto then either a primo or secondo, followed by dolce (optional).

(C: Basically appetizer, main course, dessert. It may be in a foreign language, but there's no need to panic.)

An Italian told me to cook pasta in a frying pan rather than a saucepan, is he fucking with me?

Some recipes require you to finish it in a frying pan after boiling the pasta in a saucepan, sooooooo no.

Expanding on this…

Should you cook the pasta in the sauce to finish?

Mhmmmmm depends. Most recipes just add sauce to the pasta after. If you're using the frying pan that would be because the sauce needs some finishing, e.g. melting cheese. In general you can just pour the sauce in. (AFTER draining the pasta)

What is the correct way to pronounce sauce?

??? Sauce in Italian is salsa (sal-sa) or sugo (su-go). Btw tomato sauce would be sugo di pomodoro.

Best Italian food in Cambridge?

Aromi is quite authentic. La Margherita is good for the basic pizza (La Margherita). C: Also rumours that La Mimosa is quite good.

What do rich Italians eat? Linguini with gold flakes?

There actually is a recipe for risotto with gold flakes. But then in Italy we don't really have the same class divide as the UK so you don't have to be rich to eat that.

If I really had to say…then seafood is considered a delicacy.

How do Italians deal with people who are gluten-intolerant? Are there foods which are naturally gluten free, or does everything have to be modified?

Erm…Rice? Italian cuisine, especially in the North, has a lot of recipes based on rice rather than pasta. Otherwise, like anywhere else, gluten-free pasta. (Or any other non-carb based dish, the secondo course would normally consist of meat or fish)

Where do you find the best Italian food outside Italy.

Wherever Italians are.

And…the pasta is done. Recipe below. Yes. You've caught me. This is basically my excuse for someone else to cook for me. It was worth it though. See below:

Penne with courgettes and cherry tomatoes (Simple af. But wholesome. And good for those on a tight budget)

Stuff needed: cherry tomatoes, courgettes, diced(2 per portion should do, those smaller ones sold in packets), 1 clove of garlic, olive oil, salt, dried chilli pepper.

1. Chop/dice cherry tomatoes,courgettes. Break the garlic (as in just hammer it with a knife? Split it open, but don't cut it.)

2. Brown the clove of garlic in a saucepan with extra-virgin olive oil. When garlic turns yellow add diced courgettes. (drizzle some more extra-virgin olive oil over the courgettes)

3. Add a pinch of salt to season (this means exercise your own judgment by tasting btw) and stir at low temperature for about 15 minutes until courgettes are soft.

4. At this point add the diced cherry tomatoes and some dried chilli pepper (quantity matter of personal taste, note however, too much would make the dish taste bitter). Cook for another 5 – 10 minutes (cherry tomatoes will release water so need to evaporate it so the pasta won't be soggy).

5. Meanwhile cook the pasta. (Boil for 6 – 8 minutes and salt the water to taste….in terms of timing I'd say after the cherry tomatoes have been added in.)

6. Remove the clove of garlic, drain the pasta, and add the courgettes and cherry tomatoes. Mix well and serve. (Optional: add freshly diced cherry tomatoes for more flavour)

And…there you are!