As the pot full of vermacelli bubbled and boiled on my old GE range, I thought about the first time I was made fully aware of noodles.
When I was a young boy, I knew I had eaten noodles, macaroni, spaghetti, and lasagne, but hadn’t actually thought about this food. One summer morning, (I don’t remember the year, it’s an early memory) I watched my maternal grandmother make egg noodles.
Obviously, I don’t remember the recipe grandma W used that day, but I do recall her using a large Pyrex bowl to combine flour, eggs, and some other liquid ingredients. Next, she spread a white cloth on the kitchen table, sprinkled flour onto it then kneaded the dough. Next she placed the dough back into the bowl and covered it just as she did when baking bread.
After several minutes, grandma divided the dough into equal portions, probably four, then rolled each piece with her rolling pin. When it was thinner than pie dough, she let it stand uncovered for awhile. Then she rolled the flattened dough into loose spirals and sliced them into thin segments. Finally, she unrolled each slice and placed them on a wire rack to dry.
That’s all I recall about that day. I wish I could remember how she used them or how delicious they tasted. I only know that grandma W said it was important for me to know about noodles.
Exactly when did Americans start using the name “pasta” instead of macaroni, spaghetti, noodles and so on? Was it during the 1980s? Maybe the manufacturers wanted to have fun marketing their products. It doesn’t matter if it’s some sort of -etti, -elli, -oni, or -otti, all “Italian style” American pasta is made from the same ingredients.
Now we can also choose whole grain noodles and various colored pasta that contain trace amounts of vegetables. I like to use rotelle that is sold in a color assortment. Whenever I want to “cook healthy”, green, whole grain, noodles or other pasta are my choices. One of my friends says she has “issues” with green pasta and won’t touch it.
My step-mother, Tippy, introduced me to the joys of asian noodles. She liked to use noodles as a substitute for rice, because they’re quicker to prepare for quick satisfying meals or snacks. She often stocked up on packages of instant rice noodles, flat noodles, “glass” noodles, and asian style wheat noodles from the Asian grocery store in Sioux City, Iowa.
Tippy had an endless supply of dishes that she knew by heart. I don’t remember ever seeing Tippy use recipe cards or cookbooks, even though she owned a large collection of them. Tippy once told me she learned how to cook when she was a little girl in Thailand so she could just automatically prepare any type of meal without thinking about it. I greatly miss her Thai meals. Many of them included some type of Thai or Asian noodles.
These days, I use American style noodles and pasta because these products are widely available at low cost. Often times, I enjoy spaghetti topped with a chopped vegetable tomato sauce that I prepare myself. Other times, I experiment with regular egg noodles. I find vegetarian noodle recipes on the Internet in many of the foodie blogs I follow.