Why Italian Food is Not Simple and a Pasta and Olive Oil Challenge Giveaway



(photo: spaghetti chitarra with tomato sauce, ricotta, and peas; see below for recipe)

The now immortalized copywriter turned French cook Julia Child remarked once that, “anyone can make a bowl of pasta but it takes a skilled chef to put out a fine French meal.”  You can imagine my reaction to the quote and my thinking on Child’s comment; namely, she’s full of rubbish, to put in mildly.  

The act of making pasta, to address the specific attack on Italian food, is not a simple task.  Preparing a dish such as linguine fine with pesto requires that the home cook understands when to pick fresh basil (did you know basil becomes more and more bitter as you pick more leaves?), how much olive oil to add to the pesto mixture, how long to cook the pasta, how much starchy water to save and add to the condiment, how much extra virgin olive oil to add to the final step of marrying pasta with condiment, how much heat to apply to the mixing of pasta and condiment so as not to destroy the basil flavor, what sort of grated cheese to use, etc.  

So, I disagree wholeheartedly with Julia Child’s take on making pasta.  And, moreover, fiercely reject the implication behind the quote suggesting French food is superior to Italian food (this statement smells of a fundamental misunderstanding of food and culture and is another argument for never listening to a so called food expert).  Julia Child wasn’t some gift from the food Gods rather just a regular person who liked to cook French food.   

Contest and Challenge:

(photo: Pastificio Vicidomini Spaghetti Chitarra made in Naples with organic ingredients)

(photo: Giachi Primolio Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Tuscany)

In honor of rejecting Julia Child’s claim that it takes no skill to prepare a “bowl of pasta” Scordo.com has partnered with Olio2Go.com and Viola Imports for a pasta making giveaway contest.  The contest includes a single bottle of Giachi Primolio Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Viola Imports (a wonderful first pressed Tuscan oil that you can use to finish pasta or in a tomato salad) and a single package of Pastificio Vicidomini Spaghetti Chitarra from Olio2go (a great pasta from Naples that’s made with semolina (certified organic) and mountain water and is dried patiently on site).  We used the two ingredients to create a fabulous, and complex tasting, pasta dish:  Spaghetti Chitarra with tomato sauce, ricotta, peas, and extra virgin olive oil.  Your assignment, if your’re the chosen winner, is to create your own pasta dish with the two free ingredients and report back to Scordo.com
If you must have the two ingredients right away then you can find them at:
  • Pastificio Vicidomini Spaghetti Chitarra from Olio2go
  • Giachi Primolio Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Viola Imports
Here are the contest rules:
– Prize Giveaway includes a single (1) bottle of Giachi Primolio Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Viola Imports and a single (1) package of Pastificio Vicidomini Spaghetti Chitarra from Olio2go
– What you need to do to enter: 1. leave a comment under this post on why you love Italian food, the more philosophical your answer the better! and 2. sign up for the Scordo fan page on Facebook; if you’re already a fan please share our Facebook page with a few of your favorite Facebook friends on your own wall (you can do this in the lower left hand side of the Scordo fan page).
– Only one entry per person please.
– The contest is open until 12 midnight on 9/29 and a single random user will be picked (sorry contest only open to folks from the US given shipping logistics).  The winner will be announced immediately on Twitter (so please follow us) and on Scordo.com on Sunday 5PM EST, 10/3. 
– Please use a valid email address when leaving a comment so I can contact you just in case you’re the lucky winner. 
– Olio2Go and Viola Imports will send out the products to the lucky winner during the week of 10/3

And here is the recipe for Spaghetti Chitarra with peas, tomato sauce, and ricotta:
  • 250 grams of pasta
  • 1 cup of fresh ricotta (click here to find out how to make your own)
  • 3-4 cups of tomato sauce (again make your own)
  • 2 cups of frozen peas 
  • 1/4 of grated Grana Padano
  • 4-5 basil leaves, finely chopped.  
After pasta is finished cooking, bring pasta to your sauce pan with peas and tomato sauce (you can cook your frozen peas separately in a small pot).  Stir well and add fresh ricotta.  Stir again and add fresh extra virgin olive oil.  Add grated cheese and freshly chopped basil.   

(photo: finished product)


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  3. I love Italian food for so many reasons. It reminds me of visiting my Italian Grandmother, who’s house always smelled like bread baking and olive oil, but mainly I love it becasue I have never found another type of food that no matter what was being served, I’d love it.

  4. I think I should be of Italian Heritage and not Scandinavian (which I am). I’m not a big fan of fish, which is big with Scandinavians. But I am a fan of yummy homemade Italian pasta sauce which, when I have tomatoes from the garden, I make from scratch! Tastes so much better than Prego! And I can make some great pasta with my pasta machine to go with this sauce! I love to add meatballs or Hot Italian sausage to my creations to give them a zip!

    I follow you on Facebook as Carolsue Anderson

  5. I thank my Grandma for my love of Italian food. She knew how to fix the simplest dishes in an elegant fashion. I learned many a lot, from growing the right tomatoes, canning them and making simple sauces. Fresh pasta was one of her specialties which has made it difficult to eat pasta from a box. A few years ago I was able to assist my Grandpa and reconnect with family living in Caiazzo. My 3rd cousin and are now Facebook friends. I like your Facebook page and follow you on Twitter.

  6. Perception of food is a funny thing. Although French food is maybe a bit more difficult in terms of technique, making good Italian food is certainly not easy or simple. People who portray French food as all gold leaf covered dishes, served in Michelin-rated restaurants are doing a disservice to French food. The most famous French dishes; pot au feu, ratatouille and coq au vin among others are the very definition of peasant dishes. And like a good Italian tomato sauce, they are extremely simple in concept and yet devilishly tricky to master. I think the fact that Italian food has been introduced to the world via poor immigrants has a lot to do with how it’s seen internationally. On the other hand, the cultural attitude in France that reveres professional chefs as master artists probably explains why French food is often seen as inaccessible. In reality, Italian food has plenty of elegance and refinement and French cuisine is filled with practical, simple dishes.

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