Ridi, ridi, che mamma ha fatto i gnocchi. – Italian proverb.
This past weekend, a couple of friends and I made plans to meet at the Boston Public Market to pick up cheese, visit the Boston Museum of Science for College Night, then head to the North End for some good ole’ Italian food together afterwards. Of course, as they said that, they all eyed me suspiciously.
Now, I’m not saying I take issue with the North End. I myself am a huge fan of many of the restaurants and bakeries there. But my resistance comes from the fact that, much like with pizza, pastas seem to be over sauced, making them more like a thick soup and, in the words of my Italian cooking professor back in Florence, “mask[ing] the delicate tendency of the pasta.”
In this article from The Guardian posted last fall, writer Rose Hackman explored how New York Italians view American-style pasta (especially that in New York City) and other classic dishes. Her main findings? Garlic is overused, many dishes are lauded as authentic without being verified as so (looking at you, fettucine alfredo), and meatballs are too heavy for a primi course with pasta and would more likely be served during secondi.
“The even more popular way of serving pasta alfredo in the US – with chicken – is beyond imaginable,” says Hackman.
Of course, food is food is food, so I allowed my friends to chooose an Italian restaurant of their liking and order as much extra sauce and chicken parmesan as their hearts desired.