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Pasta - Basta!

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Dedicated to Fun Family Travel in Italy

May 2005

Greetings,

One of the joys of family travel in Italy is pasta, a food that everyone loves and that can be found in numerous varieties everywhere!

Noodles were probably introduced to Italy by Arabs who conquered Sicily in the 800s. Marco Polo has often been credited with bringing pasta to Italy, but macaroni was around before his travels.

Today, the Italian consumption of pasta is, according to the I Love Pasta site (link below), more than 60 pounds per person per year. However, Italy is changing, like every other country, and pasta consumption is declining in favor of foods from other places in the world.

Travel tip: Do not visit the National Museum of Pasta that is near the Trevi Fountain in Rome unless you want to pay 10 Euros to get out of the rain or heat. They have missed every possible opportunity to tap into the fun of pasta.

Freely forward this Discover Italy Newsletter in its entirety. At the very bottom of the newsletter you will find a forward link to make it easy. (c) Copyright Kids Europe 2005.


Pat Byrne

A Yummy Theme to Your Travels in Italy

 

While traveling in Italy, try a new pasta dish or two. Learn to say the name of your dish and order it yourself. Describe what it was made of and how it looks, smells, and tastes. If you like to write or are keeping a travel journal, write a description of your dish as if you are writing an article for a newspaper. Describe the "goods and bads" about the food and even the restaurant.

"Collect" different sauces. When you have a favorite, try it several places and compare. Usually a sauce is served with a certain pasta shape that holds that kind of sauce well. There are pasta dishes that are very traditional and yummy, for example:

  • Spaghetti Carbonara - Carbon-burner's style with egg, "pancetta" (like bacon), parsley, and paremsan cheese.

  • Pasta Alfredo - Cheese, cream, and butter sauce.

  • Spaghetti Aglio e Olio - Garlic and oil sauce, a light meal.

  • Pasta Puttanesca - Flavorful "streetwalker's style" with anchovies, garlic, olives, and capers.

  • Pasta Marinara - Pasta with basic tomato sauce.

  • Bucatini all'Amatriciana - Tomato sauce with pieces of pancetta (like bacon).

  • Pasta Bolognese or al Ragu - Tomato and minced meat sauce originally from the town of Bologna, also the home of baloney.

  • Penna all'Arrabiata - "Angry" quill shaped macaroni with a spicy tomoato sauce.

See the Italy Discovery Journal for more.

You can also collect different pasta shapes. You can start in your local grocery store and when in Italy, add to your collection. For space reasons, you may want your collection to consist of drawings. The Italy Discovery Journal has an illustrated check list to get you started.

If you want to start exploring the world of pasta right now, try a different shape and sauce each week. The Flying Noodle Pasta Club! can help.

Pasta Information on the Internet

The History of Pasta is a great place to get a sense of the ancient history of this food.

Buitoni is the foremost pasta company of Italy and their website has interesting information about pasta and lots of great recipe ideas.

Professional Pasta is for people who make pasta, it has an index of thousands of shapes with pictures and information about the machines that are used to make pasta. There must be people who are Pasta Designers and Pasta Engineers who work in this business. Do you think there is a University of Pasta? What would their official degree be called?

I Love Pasta website has lots of great information, for example, October is National Pasta Month in the US.

Math challenge: measure a box of pasta, then figure out how big a space it would take to hold 60 boxes, the average amount of pasta an Italian eats in a year.

How Italians Cook Pasta. To make great pasta, you don't need a magic pot like Strega Nona's, but you do need to boil it in lots of water. I recommend a minimum of 6 quarts of water, 8 is better, so the pasta doesn't get sticky with starch. Pasta water is traditionally salted until it is as salty as the Mediterranean sea. And pasta should not be overcooked but only till it is al dente, chewy, not limp.

Italy Discovery Journal

 

This kid-focused guide book and journal offers more than 500 ideas to help kids and their families enjoy travel in Italy. It reduces whining and gets them engaged in popular culture, goofy observations, and strange history.

The Italy Discovery Journal has a list of kid- approved pasta dishes with explanations and a check- list of interesting pasta shapes for a pasta scavenger hunt with room to add in your own discoveries.

"Italy Discovery Journal is the best educational travel- guide available for kids. Starting with the reasonable assumption that other guides already list places to go and things to see, Pat Byrne has largely skipped those listings. In their place, she's created a unique collection of activities that encourage kids 6-16 to truly observe and interact with Italy during their visit." Cynthia W. Harriman, author Take Your Kids to Europe, 6th: How to Travel Safely (and Sanely) in Europe with Your Children

A Must-Read Story About Pasta

This classic children's book features Strega Nona, the grandmotherly witch, and Anthony who becomes her apprentice. The story is about Anthony's adventure with magic and a pasta pot. Find out how he creates a crisis for the whole village and then how Strega Nona saves them.

More Fun Pasta Books

 

 

Learn this Word - Basta

"Basta" is the Italian word for enough. So if someone is offering you more pasta and you have had enough, say "Basta pasta!"

Family Villa in Tuscany

I just made a trip to Italy to inspect some new family vacation rentals. It is a tough job but somebody has to make sure your vacation rentals are well-located, clean, and suitable for families! I have found some lovely places and one I want to bring to your attention is in a lovely spot just 20 minutes south of Florence. The owner has just finished two very nice apartments on his estate in Chianti.

This is an ideal spot to visit the treasures of Florence in the morning and getting some sun around the pool in the afternoon. The location is great for walking and a good base for exploring Tuscany.

And, having just opened, there are many summer weeks still available. The owners, Riccardo and Gianna produce a prized type of Chianti Classico called Gallo Nero on this same property. So you can see the grapes ripening and visit the winery, tasting the wine as well as the estate-produced vin santo, grappa, and olive oil.

Watch Your Purse!

Italy is not a dangerous country; you can walk the streets all times of the night and go all over the country without fearing for your safety. But, there are pickpockets and thieves who prey on tourists. Leave your jewels at home, tuck your documents, money and credit cards into a money belt, and when you are in train stations and airports, don't let go of small pieces of luggage.

It is especially difficult when you are traveling with children who add to distractions, leaving you open to thieves. If you find yourself frantic and rushing, take a breath, and let the people behind you in line wait a little longer until you tuck your money away or ensure that all the pieces of luggage are accounted for.

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