Buttando la Pasta (Throwing the Pasta)

Nico's invisible hand throws the Fusilli Pasta in the boiling water. Photo by Trisha Thomas

One evening my husband Gustavo called me at 7 pm as I was getting ready to leave the office. “ARE YOU LEAVING?!!?” he demanded. “Yes, yes,” I replied, “I’m just running out the door. “ “OKAY, leave NOW, because sto buttando la pasta.” (I am throwing the pasta.)

‘Throwing the pasta’ is an important concept all over Italy.  I believe the main reason so many people need telefonini (cell phones) is so that they can let each other know that they are throwing the pasta.  Pasta can take anywhere from three minutes for tortellini to 11-12 minutes for spaghetti to cook.  Once it is cooked, it must, must, must be eaten immediately.  Therefore, all eaters must be seated at the table.  If mommy, daddy, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, grandmother, grandfather, wife or husband call to tell you they are ‘throwing the pasta’, it means you have a few minutes to get to the table or you are committing the gravest of sins.

With this important concept in mind, I rushed out the door of the office and squashed myself onto a packed bus.  Two stops away from home, my cell phone’s “Doo-dee DOO dee dee” started up in my bag.  I ignored it as everyone began looking around, giggling, and trying to figure out who had a child’s toy in their bag.  It went on and on and on and on.  I knew it was Gustavo and I did not want to discuss the ‘State of the Pasta’, so I looked around nonchalantly.

Finally, just as all eyes were beginning to narrow in on me, it stopped. Whew.  Ten seconds later, it started up again.  A persistant “Doo-dee DOO dee dee.” Everyone looked at me.  I reached into my purse and pulled out the culprit, bowed my head and whispered, “What?”  “WHERE ARE YOU? THE PASTA IS READY,” Gustavo yelled.  “Almost home,” I whispered and hung up.  I raised my beet-red face and, with an embarrassed shrug, muttered to the passenger nearest me, “La pasta e’ pronta.”  “AHHH, OHHH” came the general response.  Several heads nodded with deep understanding and profound sympathy as they cleared a path for me to get off the bus at my stop.

 

**Note to blog readers:  I have been busy the past few days covering Italian politics and what looks like might be the end of the political career of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.  This man has kept me busy with news stories for the past 17 years in Italy and I am definitely not counting him out yet. I have not blogged on Berlusconi because I am assuming that my blog readers are not interested because they get enough from news sources.  However,  if you are interested, let me know by sending me your comments and I will do a few posts on Berlusconi.

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Post in: Italiano

Trisha Thomas
Trisha is a TV journalist working for AP TV News in Rome. She is married to an Italian and is a Mamma of three.

8 Comments

  1. Cat
    2011/11/10

    Great post! It’s interesting to read about the intricacies of daily Italian life!

    Reply
    • Trisha Thomas
      Trisha Thomas
      2011/11/10

      Thank you Cat!

      Reply
  2. Laura
    2011/11/10

    oh, do we have stories about buttare la pasta! take this one.
    My mom was preparing a “pasta e ceci” for dinner: a delicious soup with chickpeas and one of the tiniest shapes of pasta – I believe in the US this type of pasta goes by “Tubetti.” Anyway, something very small. The secret of this soup (and don’t tell my mom I spoiled it!) is to mix part of the chikpeas, so that they become a creamy sauce, and to throw in some whole chickpeas. Now the problem of course is the timing, cause whole chickpeas take longer to cook than the tiny pasta. Well, it just so happened that my mom got the timing wrong, just this once… and yet it was the one time she wanted to get it right, cause she was serving dinner to people she cared about. In fact, I think you were one of the guests that evening, Trisha!
    Anyway, long story short, it was **unacceptable** that the pasta in the soup was “scotta” (overcooked) so my dad and I, all dressed up for the evening, spent a whole hour taking all the little pieces of pasta out of the soup, one by one (!), while my mom boiled some more in water and threw it into the soup at the right time.
    That’s what it takes for Italians to avoid eating their pasta scotta!

    Reply
    • Trisha Thomas
      Trisha Thomas
      2011/11/10

      Oh my gosh!! I can’t believe it!! Even such a fabulous cook as your mother can have kitchen disasters sometimes. Wow. You mother is one of the best cooks I know. Dinners at the Brandimarte home are always heavenly! If you can get your mother to give you the “pasta e ceci” recipe I will put it in this blog (giving her credit, of course). But I will also understand if she wants to keep her cooking secrets.

      Reply
  3. Gwen Thomas
    2011/11/11

    Bring on the Berlusconi posts. THey would be interesting too! I love this story! Doo, Dee, Doo Doo.

    Reply
  4. Bonnie Melielo
    2011/11/12

    I would love to hear what you have to say on Berlusconi since you have been so closely involved with him as a journalist for so many year, and your writing is much more interesting!!

    Reply
  5. Lega Medcalf
    2011/11/12

    I’d like to read your Berlusconi posts too. It would give us readers a different perspective especially if you include how Italians view the whole event. Plus, your posts would have a humorous slant I’m sure!!! I chuckle a lot as I read along.

    Reply
  6. John. Menard
    2011/11/15

    I have come to appreciate the importance of food in Italian culture . This blog posting appears to highlight the importance of families eating together. I am sorry that this tradition is under siege in many American households. Thank you for Berlisconi posts

    Reply

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