So you’re walking down the streets of Florence, on your left you’ve got Palazzo Signoria, the center of Florentine Medici power. Right in front of you, one of the wonders of Florence, you’ve seen it in all the postcards. You’ve been waiting to see it first hand for soo long and be able to walk through the sparkling windows of the Florentine goldsmiths. You can hear the buskers on the street and you joyously look to your right then to your left, the Arno, and in front of you a cloud of smoke. Yep, a cloud of smoke.
So you might as well know about it and learn from our collective mistakes.
I’ll give you a quick rundown if you can’t translate from Italian.
So, they went to the store and bought a nice packet of pasta (you’re in Italy what else are you going to do? You’ve gotta make a plate of pasta at least once, right?), once they got home, they set the kitchen up. And lo and behold they put the pasta in a pot without adding any water. Now, usually, if you put something like pasta in a heated pan it bursts into flames, and well yeah that’s the smoke you were seeing in front of Ponte Vecchio.
We at StudentsVille like our pasta al dente, but not that al dente. Because of this, we thought, why not drop a list of ways not to cook pasta, at least if you’re ever lost, you can come here and give it a read before you find yourself hand in hand with David Byrne.
Always add water
Well, this is pretty obvious, especially after that story. But hey maybe that’s tltr and you can’t be bothered. When you get the pot before you put in on the fire, just add water all the way to the handles and you’ll be fine.
Let the water boil
I’ve heard of stories about our compatriots putting the pot on the stove, with water (so I mean that’s a plus), fire on and all, and just plopping the pasta in. Patience young padawan, you’ve gotta make that water boil before you’re throwing that sweet gluten in there.
Respect the time on the packet
I understand, you’re finally young and independent and maybe it’s your first time away from home and you’ve got every god given Right, as an American, to do what the hell you want right? No, sometimes we’ve gotta listen, sometimes there is a reason for all the instructions. Please just once bow your head, just once….please.
Add salt before adding the pasta
This one is a bit of a trick, I mean it cooks better this way. You’ve gotta get that salt in the water before the pasta is in. If you don’t the water won’t be salty enough to enhance the pasta’s flavor. Best thing to do would be to add it right as the water boils, cause at that point you’ve gotta wait less time for the boiling point (science stuff was never my forte, but this works)
Do not put the sauce in the pasta water
Ok. Remember talking about how box wine wasn’t a good thing to do in Florence, the mayor, and all of that? maybe not cause you haven’t read the other article. You cannot in any way put the sauce in the pot with the water, I can understand you’ve seen a couple of episodes of Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, but cooking with sauce and water is something else.
Do not put sugar in the water
Now, this is quite embarrassing, cause I’m acting like some sort of king of the Kitchen, Iron Chef Chris. See sometimes salt and sugar look very similar, and maybe you’re cooking with a glass of wine at a friends house and you keep adding in “salt” trying to understand why in heavens name does the pasta, not taste in any way like pasta. You ask yourself “is it the wine?” – “have I had THAT much wine?” and so on. Only to realize that you’ve been adding sugar all along. Always taste your salt/sugar before adding.
Stir that pasta
You’ve finally got to the stage where you can sit down and relax. The pasta is in and the only thing to do now is waiting for the timer to go off and eat. No, no you can’t. You’ve gotta stay there with that pasta and stir it every couple of minutes.
Do not put oil in the water
Now you’re sitting there reading this (maybe), going “yeah sure I can just add oil to the water and that’s that, finito I can go and do whatever I do based on my preferred lifestyle” (so diplomatic). That doesn’t work you’ve gotta give it a couple stirs trust me.
Do not burn the sauce
So now, now you’re actually done with the pasta side and you can put a pan on the right stove, flames a-blazin’ and throw in the marinara/bolognese/whatever you’re cooking. That’s a bad idea unless you like your sauce tasting like burnt pan and death. Treat it gently low flames and stir it a couple times.
NO Supermarket pasta
Please, maybe you’re bored about all this “how to cook” stuff (to not say shit) and you’re in the supermarket right now. phone in hand and you’re thinking “ you know what f this guy, I’m getting this pre-made pasta from the fridge section”. Please, please don’t. Have pity on yourself, just try, worst comes to worst it’ll taste the same as the fridge one, don’t worry.