Thursday, June 26, 2008

Orzo or Orzo

I am fascinated with the shapes of pasta right now. I have thought plenty of times (oh, texture-focused child that I was) about tortellini, and how to eat each piece by methodically maneuvering it around in my mouth so that the pinched together arms were directed towards my throat, and the folded over seam holding in the filling was placed exactly over my lower front teeth. This was the best way possible for a small mouth to experience the pleasantly ergonomic dissection of the storebought tortellini.

Imagine the tired parents who are just trying to get the kid to finish her dinner and not be distracted by it. Oh well! The way of a savoring life!

I also loved the feeling of eating Kraft macaroni and cheese, partly because we didn't have it at my house. The other reason was the liquid orange sauce, surrounding and dispensed by delicate inch long lengths of pasta and was mild and swimming with a lightness of being.

For me, spaghetti, fettuccine, and angel hair are perfect on occasion, especially at restaurants when I am spontaneously charmed by something I wouldn't probably make at home. The current intrigue lies in bite sized sculptural forms, and finding and imagining the qualities of the shapes, and the best usage. I have been frequenting an Italian market which has a huge selection of excellent pasta, in usual and unusual forms. I like Orecciette (shaped like "ears" or little bowls), and some wavy almost free-form ones. I have yet to try the tennis racket shaped ones although those tiny cross-hatches look appealing. Mouthfeel can be entertaining, or just contribute an interesting sensory aspect to food. Each shape delivers sauces and other ingredients to your tongue in different ways.

One night I used orzo, a pasta often used in soups. It is shaped like rice but larger and flatter. I used it in two unsoup related ways, just because.

sauteed red onions in olive oil with Indian spices (black pepper, cumin, corriander, cinnamon, chili, turmeric, and additional garam masala mixtures.)
fresh thin sliced scallions
fleur de sel
zest of a lime
a drizzle of honey

This one is best hot. It turned out with a good balance of spicy, salty and sweet.

red onion
tuna fish
kalamata olives
tomatoes, 10 cherry tomatoes
feta, crumbled
basil, chopped

I like this one cold. It is fresh and each bite offers a different combination of flavors.

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