My Uncle’s Pasta (aka Cacio e Pepe … whatever!)

Being today is George Washington’s birthday, I’ve decided to come clean. Understand that there is no easy way for me to say this, so, I’m just going to blurt it out. I lied to you. Well-intentioned though I was, I nevertheless gave you false information. And, what’s worse, I did it not once but twice. Now, before you grab torches, gather en masse, and storm Chicago looking for me — by the way, if you do, be sure to take the Dan Ryan (hehehe) — let me explain …

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Back in October, 2010, my first real post was the recipe for Pasta in Bianco and, at the time, I said it was about the easiest pasta dish to make. And it is … sorta. Then, a year later, I shared the recipe for Spaghetti Aglio e Olio which I described as being “by far, the easiest (pasta dish) to prepare.” Well, it is … kinda. The truth is that there is a 3rd dish, an even easier dish to prepare, a dish that for decades I’ve prepared for myself and enjoyed as my own personal creation and that reminded me of Uncle. That is, until a few weeks ago when I found an authentic recipe that is identical to “my” recipe for Uncle’s Pasta. I could ignore it or, worse yet, try to convince everyone that my recipe is the original but, c’mon.  I’ve just confessed to 2 lies, committing a 3rd lie — especially one so obvious — would serve no purpose other than to further grease my path into Hades. So, I’ll take the high road and explain how I came upon this dish and, in an effort to make amends, I’ll throw in a little info on yet another obscure pasta, to boot.

Living in the old two-flat, there were many dinners where the families ate together and very often some form of pasta was served. My Uncle, like most, enjoyed grated cheese atop his pasta but, what set his plate apart from everyone else’s, was his love of black pepper. To my eye, he used more pepper than anyone seated at the table. Well, for this youngster, the aroma of grated Pecorino Romano mingling with the scent of freshly cracked pepper was intoxicating, made even more so because I was considered too young to have access to the pepper shaker. (As an unexpected benefit, however, when the nuns spoke of the Garden of Eden, I understood all too well Eve’s desire for the Forbidden Seasoning Fruit.) Well, I eventually grew up, as most young boys tend to do, and was finally able to add as much pepper to my pasta as I wanted — and I did. But wait, there’s more to this story because, up until now, I could have been talking about any pasta dish. I need to narrow the field a bit.

Once I moved away, I lived with a number of roommates until I could finally afford a place of my own. Back then, having a well-stocked pantry was not exactly high on my priority list. Let’s be honest, if not for “tissue”, coffee, and cat litter, I probably wouldn’t have seen the inside of a grocery for months at a time. Now, I’ve already blogged about my love for, and reliance upon, Spaghetti Aglio e Olio, pasta made with garlic and olive oil, but there were times when I didn’t have any olive oil. What to do? Well, I made my pasta without it, adding a bit more cheese, a couple more sprinkles of pepper, and some pasta water in its place. Moments later, I’d be seated at the dinner table where, with a single whiff, I was 6 years old again watching Uncle shower his pasta with pepper. So, for some 30 years, I’ve made this pasta, not just when out of olive oil but whenever I needed a pasta fix and the nostalgia bug hit me.  Over time, this pasta came to be called Uncle’s Pasta in my mind because its aroma reminded me of his plate during those family dinners of long ago.

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I’ll re-visit this picture when WordPress becomes scratch & sniff-enabled.

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With that in mind, you can well imagine my surprise when, a few short weeks ago whilst I was looking at pasta cutters, I learned that the people of Rome, and its district of Lazio, make a pasta called Cacio e Pepe, Cheese and Pepper, that is exactly like my Uncle’s Pasta! Now, rather than become bitter, I’ve decided to rise to the occasion and to turn this into a teaching opportunity. You see, the night that I became aware that the Romans had plundered my childhood memories and stolen my pasta recipe,  I was looking at a pasta maker called the chitarra. Italian for “guitar”, a chitarra is shirt box-sized with many wires or cords stretched, lengthwise, from one end to the other. A freshly made pasta sheet is laid on top of the “strings” and a rolling-pin is used to forcefully push the dough sheet through them to create pasta noodles. Although the width between the strings may vary from chitarra to chitarra, when they are set close enough together so that the distance is the same as the width of the pasta sheet, the result is a square-shaped pasta called tonnarelli. Often as thick as spaghetti, tonnarelli, not so coincidentally, are often used to make Cacio e Pepe. Never seen ’em? Guess again.  One very common “fresh” pasta’s cappellini is, in fact, tonnarelli. If you own a pasta machine, chances are it makes 2 types of pasta. The packaging will name the smaller of the 2 as being either cappellini or spaghetti. Um … no. One very popular stand mixer’s pasta cutter is advertised as making angel hair pasta. Again … no! These cutters are incapable of making a round pasta noodle and both cappellini and spaghetti are, in fact, round. If it’s a thin, square-shaped pasta, it’s tonnarelli. Now, if the pasta from your smallest cutter isn’t quite square, that’s probably because the pasta sheet wasn’t the same thickness as the cutter’s width. If you’re so inclined, vary the pasta sheet’s width and you’ll get your square tonnarelli.

My point isn’t to make sure everyone that sits at my dinner table, or that reads this, can identify the pasta set before them. No, not at all. It is to illustrate just how seriously the Italians take their pasta. For many, Emilia–Romagna is the home of Italy’s best pasta makers, with Bologna as its capital. True pasta aficionados from that region will claim that they can tell whether the pasta dough is rolled by hand or machine, with a wooden versus a steel rolling-pin, on a wooden board versus a stainless steel or marble counter top, etc., etc., etc. My father, when he saw Mom preparing to make pasta that day, would remind her to roll it out by hand as he left for work. Mom always assured him she would — and then got out the pasta machine before his car had made it to the end of the block. When dinner was served, could Dad tell the difference? Who knows but, like any loving husband, he knew when to keep quiet.

Wow! Such a long post for so simple a dish to prepare. I won’t be giving this recipe the full treatment because, frankly, it would be a waste of time. All you need is some pasta, freshly made is preferred but boxed spaghetti will do nicely; hot pasta water; some grated cheese, Pecorino Romano if possible; and freshly cracked/ground pepper.  I won’t be giving ingredient amounts because they will all depend upon the number of servings to be prepared and your own taste. You may not be as enamored with pepper as am I, after all.

While your pasta is cooking, warm the serving bowl. This can be done by pouring hot water from a tea kettle or via the tap. Once the pasta is cooked to your liking, reserve a  cup of the boiling pasta water before draining the pasta. No need to drain it fully. In fact, it’s better if you don’t. Work quickly now. Place the cooked pasta into the now-warmed serving bowl and season it very generously with the grated Pecorino Romano cheese. (Parmesan may be substituted.) Mix the pasta, adding more pasta water, a little at a time, so that it combines with the cheese to create a sauce-like dressing for the pasta. If it’s too dry, add more water; too wet, add more cheese. Once the pasta is evenly coated, add some pepper and stir. Remember, the dish is called Cacio e Pepe for a reason.

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With your pasta now appropriately dressed, serve it on warmed dinnerware.  Garnish each serving with a generous sprinkling of grated Pecorino Romano and another dusting of pepper. Now, before you sample this testament to simplicity, take a moment to savor the fragrances of freshly grated cheese and newly cracked pepper wafting up from your plate. Nothing more need be said.

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Pasta Cacio e Pepe

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99 thoughts on “My Uncle’s Pasta (aka Cacio e Pepe … whatever!)

  1. I always learn a lot reading your posts and links to things I would not know about otherwise. Just last night I filled the peppermill with fresh black peppercorns…enjoyed reading your story but loved the photo of your colorful Lucy. John if you came up with the scratch and sniff that would be So great.Imagine your pasta and sauces, Smidge’s baking, Greg’s winter grilling, smoking and roasting, just to mention a few. And
    now I have to go look up for whom the expressway is named.

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    • That’s my Lucy and she loves her pasta! Yeah, with all the great recipes everyone posts, Scratch & Sniff on WordPress would be a major innovation. We laugh but, one day, it very well may come to pass. Who knows how? Don’t bother looking up the freeway. It is known for being gridlocked for a good portion of every workday. Most locals avoid it at all costs. What better path to suggest to a mob that is coming to get me?

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  2. Hop on the Dan Ryan. LOL.

    This pasta sounds delicious and one that I have a feeling Mr. N would really, really enjoy. And I would no doubt enjoy the aroma. Pepper always makes me think of my grandpa. He loaded (and I mean loaded) ground pepper onto everything. It’s a smell I strongly associate with my grandma’s kitchen (which lately I’ve been thinking about and missing a lot). The next time I whip up some pasta – which will no doubt be soon – I’ll be making your Uncle’s Pasta. 🙂

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    • Your memories of your Grandpa resonate with me. Both sure did love their pepper, eh? When you do make this pasta, Kristy, just remember to work fast. Everything must be hot so that the cheese melts and coats the pasta and doesn’t just form a clump. ANd it it doesn’t turn out exactly right the first time? Just throw another handful of cheese on top of each serving. Trust me, no one will complain in the slightest. 🙂

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  3. I loved this post so much – great history and love that you have ´fessed up and I won´t have to light a candle for you! I love simple dishes like this and admit to surviving on similar food when I was younger and poorer…but I still enjoy them now too! The title of the story reminded me of one of the rarer times when my parents didn´t work together in a restaurant and my mum (she´s English) worked in one called Sale e Pepe. As it happened the owner was called Pepe and many of the English clients thougt my mum was his wife and that her name was “sally”….Sally Pepe Restaurant…used to make us laugh 🙂

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    • What we survived on where we were young! Luckily, Mom insisted that her sons knew at least a little about cooking but, even so, I loved pasta and my home-cooked meals were some sort of pasta. It was pretty fancy just after payday. A week later, it was awfully plain. The Sally Pepe Restaurant story is hilarious! Did your Mum learn any Italian recipes from that restaurant or did they use hers? Thanks, Tanya, for the morning chuckle!

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      • I think my mum did pick up lots of tips – she loves cooking too and soon recovered from the hard pasta in tomato ketchup experience (first meal cooked for my Dad) to running a catering business! And the pasta dishes followed the same pattern for me when I first left home…they got simpler as the end of the month came round 😦

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        • Well, at least your Mum tried but, really, your Dad is the hero of that story. A meal of hard pasta with ketchup would’ve sent many men running out the door. He obviously saw a diamond in the rough and, well, you know better than I the rest of the story. 🙂 In retrospect, if I had just tried to budget my money, I would have done fine. Instead, it was feast or famine. Living like the gentry on payday and for days afterward and like a pauper as I got closer to the next payday.

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    • Exactly! And that’s how my dish was born. I didn’t know nothing about those Romans and their Cacio e Pepe. But I’m not bitter. Nope not me.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!

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  4. Wonderful – I think with pasta simple is definitely best….fresh pasta, grated Pecorino…what more could you want. Although I do love spaghetti aglio e olio too. I’m just laughing at Chica’s story of Sale e Pepe as well!

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    • For me, this dish is all about the aroma. I really do find the scent of grated cheese and cracked pepper to be really enticing. If I’m a guest at your table, just sprinkle a little of each on everything. I’ll leave your table thinking I’ve just been served the best meal of my life. I’m easy! And Tanya’s story is just too funny!

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  5. I think all your confessions are due to this being Ash Wednesday!! I enjoy reading your posts soo much!! I just wish we were sharing a glass of wine while you chatted about your family and childhood!! I am familiar with this pasta too. My dad would make it and I just thought it was something quick and cheap to make! But also, as I was learning more about cooking, I had thought all my mom’s meals were HER creation. Can you imagine my surprise when I realized there are actual recipes for what she made? And formal names for them too!! So I completely understand what you thought was your Uncles pasta. For white pizza, it was called Uncle Joe’s Pizza when I was growing up. He didn’t like sauce on his pizza, so I just assumed my mom made this special pizza just for him as she called in Uncle Joe’s Pizza!!

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    • And when Mom made Dad his special pizza, I thought it was “his.” Year’s later I learned it was a spianata! Too funny! We’d have to bring Zia to that table, too. She’d have her own stories to tell, as well as the “other side” to my recollections. For example, one of the reason’s Uncle’s use of pepper stood out so much was that my Mom hated pepper, something I didn’t know about until after she was gone. Very often she would remark that her food, which she cooked, wasn’t stirred enough because she “got all the pepper.” I’ve since learned that even as a little girl, her food was marked with tooth picks to indicate they were pepper-free. And, that’s why I was forbidden to use pepper on my food until I was well into my teens. Had she not hated pepper, Uncle’s dish wouldn’t have been so nearly impressive, and today’s recipe might have been a peanut butter sandwich. Who knew!

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  6. Bad thing usually come in threes, but there is a local commercial in SLC that says good things come in threes. In your case I’ll subscribe to the latter, but heaven help you if you fib a fourth time because then your lies will extend to seven and I’m not sure that either Dante or Virgil could help you escape the Inferno. 🙂

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  7. Actually, you had me at black pepper! I’m a freshly ground black pepper hound…I’ve always preferred it to salt and can’t eat a dish without some pepper on it…except some sweets. I love this post, you liar, you! 🙂 So informative and this simple dish…whoever came up with it first, is so lovely and yes, probably the easiest ever, and I can’t wait to make it one night. The tip about warming your bowl with hot water is great. I loved seeing your Lucy bird…she’s such a pretty pasta-eating girl and such an aptly named red-head.

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    • Sing it, Sister! We love pepper! And Lucy loves her pasta. She can peer into the kitchen when I cooking. It used to be that once she smelled the past cooking, she would start her Pasta Dance, bobbing and weaving, moving up and down the perch. Now, she starts her dance when I start adding water to my pasta pot. She is very observant, that one.

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  8. Hi,
    Friend of Donna and Ron’s here (and native Chicagoan who learned to drive on the Dan Ryan … tee hee to you!) I “pinned” one of your yummy photos to the Web site “Pinterest” (you can oeruse without joining) where people go to find all sorts of cool stuff. Interested people will be directed to your site. Thanks for all the time you put into it.

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    • Welcome, Nancy! Thanks for taking an interest. I’ve seen a couple of my recipes on Pinterest and am considering joining it. I need to learn more about how to use it. Right now, I know very little. I’ll tell Ron & Donna that you dropped by. Don’t be a stranger!

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  9. Wow, I feel like I’ve learned a lot! First, I am glad to be corrected of my knowledge of pasta types. So interesting to know the true differences. I’ll have to bust out my new knowledge next time Hubs makes homemade pasta. 🙂 Second, I love the absolute simplicity of this dish. It sounds wonderful and EASY (my kind of cooking). Finally, I love that you’re coming clean on so many accounts. I still trust you.

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    • Thanks, Courtney, I promise I won’t lie again — until next time. 🙂

      This pasta is so easy to make. Just keep everything hot so that the cheese melts evenly and you’re home. Good luck!

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  10. Oh YEAH! I am a pepper fiend too. Black pepper – the builders kind! I simply cannot live without it and if my back up bag of peppercorns is empty I hyperventilate, “What if I run OUT!!!” Of course your second-to-simplist recipe is now a staple in our house (making it tonight.. practising my pasta making, I have to get it drier! it sticks in the tines..so i practice and John eats!!) It is called Chicago Johns pasta and I am not lying! I love the hot oil you see, but if I run out of oil i will make Uncles! Love your birdie shot! I would love to own one of those little fellas! or falesses!.. he could ride on my shoulder while i walk about the farmy!.. c

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    • That pasta was dressed solely for the camera. Once I had the photo, I went back and added way more pepper like I normally do. I didn’t want to scare anybody away! Lucy is great but many “experts” warn against having them on your shoulder. Some species live communally in trees. If something startles one, it cannot shriek for fear of giving away their whereabouts. So, they will bite each other going down the line. It’s instinct. If you have one such bird, and it gets startled, you will get bit. Put another way, one author said something like, “Do you remember all of those images of the peg-legged pirate, walking around, with a parrot on his shoulder? Well, there’s a reason he’s wearing a patch over one eye…”

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      • That is brilliant, maybe I need two, then I will have enough warning and I can duck!? I never knew that! Quite fascinating really.. when you think about it, the warning bite would not have been hard – an open wound in the tropics invited disease – evolution would have cleaned that up. But i won’t risk an EYE! is it snowing already? nothing here yet.. c

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        • Early on, I still tried to get Lucy to ride on my shoulder but she wouldn’t have it. When she “grabbed” my ear with her beak to steady herself, that was it and I never tried again. As it is, she’s bitten me a number of times, drawing blood most times. It’s been close to a year since our last “fight” and that’s fine with me! No snow yet. Earlier some large flakes mixd with rain but not right now. The real fun is to start around 9:00 pm and last until 9:00 am tomorrow. I’m glad I don’t need to drive tonight. Stay warm, Celi!

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  11. I chuckled at the story of your father stating his preference for handmade pasta and your mother using the contraption! No words spoken, because obviously the result was a triumph! Your previous lies are forgiven! What I take away is just always have good Italian cheese on hand and anything is possible! This sounds so good, but I have to stop reading your posts late at night or early morning…I really would love a big bowl of this dish right now! Debra

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    • Sis & I laugh about Dad & his pasta whenever the subject comes up. I’m sure she got a chuckle out of reading it here. I have to laugh, too, whenever I hear someone comment that, ” …there’s nothing to eat in this house!” I can make a dish of pasta out of just about anything, And if you haven’t got pasta, give me a cup or two of flour and we’re in business. Mom taught me very well!

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  12. Until last year, I had NO IDEA you could use the pasta water to make a sauce…then I learned that “real” alfredo sauce didn’t have cream, just butter, cheese, and pasta water. We have it at least once a month now…I wondered if something like this was possible, just using water and cheese – and a ton of pepper for Hubby!
    (I like it, but not as much as you and he do. 🙂 )

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    • You’re right, Marie. Knowing when and how to use pasta water can work wonders with a dish of pasta water. Just work fast for this dish and you’ll be fine. And whatever pepper you don’t use, your “hubby” and I will! 🙂

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  13. This pasta simply sounds amazing. I am not a huge pepper fan but hey you only live once.. I will try this :). And I don’t think anyone would think you lied to them intentionally :). I know I would love to take a trip to Italy to eat authentic pasta. It is my dream and I will most certainly get there.

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    • I hope you do make it to Italy, Kay. It’s always been a “must see” place for me. I love walking around the Coliseum, the Pantheon, the ancient ruins and then to finish off my day with some fantastic dinner. And no matter what city you go to, there is plenty to see and so much food to try. It’s Heaven on Earth for me!

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    • You’re welcome, Bill. I must admit that many of these memories are a result of cooking the old recipes and talking to your Mom about them. I needed no help, however, to remind me of your Dad’s love of pepper. That really left an impression. Glad you’ve enjoyed today’s post and took the time to comment!

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    • Oh, I’d love it with red pepper, too, David, but I’d miss the smell of the pepper. When mixed with the cheese, it’s a trip on a time machine to my youth. I’ll just have to use both. Thanks for commenting. 🙂

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  14. What a simple but lovely dish. In my family, I always thought my mom’s “bubble” was her own creation. Come to find out years later it was what everyone else calls a Dutch Apple Pancake. I honestly have never tried pasta with pepper. I guess I thought it was a cardinal sin or something. Shows you how little I know.

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    • You know plenty! Just look at your soup 101 post today! My Mom would have a fit to see me put so much pepper on my food. She absolutely hated it. And I don’t care what anyone says, this pasta is Uncle’s Pasta in my mind and I hope that if you ever share the recipe, it will be your Mom’s Bubble and not the Dutch Apple Pancake! 🙂

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  15. Entertaining and delicious as ever John. I still love oil and garlic (it was a staple of mine when I got my first flat and was truly skint), and if I’m feeling smart I add prawns and parsley. And I remember being introduced to the way the French often serve a bowl of spaghetti with just butter and grated cheese when I was 12, and yes I still like it like this. And now I’ll be adding your Uncles’ version of cheese and black pepper, and pasta water. It sounds perfect 🙂

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    • Thanks, Claire. You know all too well what it was like in my first flat! 🙂 All 3 of the pastas you mentioned are among my repertoire and I make each regularly, sometimes with prawns, or a vegetable or two. They’re quick to make and very tasty. And, most importantly back in the day, very economical.

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  16. I’d happily read an entire book of yours John – we’d never need to leave your two-flat’s kitchen. Cacio e pepe is one of my very favorite dishes – pecorino, Pepper(!) pasta! If I’m ever faced with naming my last meal, that just might be it. I hope they’ll know what I mean when I say John’s Uncle’s Pasta. (and warm my plate please!)

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    • Thanks, Spree. Now, this pasta is good but, last meal good? You may want to wait on that. There are a few more family recipes that may sway your opinion. If this is the dish for you, however, then you’re right. Tell them to heat that plate and be quick about it! 🙂

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  17. John…Shock? Horror? Disappointment? Disbelief? Well, they were not the expected feelings evoked by your confession. Sadly, I was too interested (and excited) in the recipe and was compelled to read faster and faster. The simplicity of the ingredients really allow each and every one to stand on their own. I can certainly understand why such a dish would take you right back to your childhood. I can just smell the wonderful aromas in your Mother’s kitchen and feel the humidity of the air from boiling the pasta water. Scratch and sniff? Really? Could it be possible? We can dream…
    The lesson on the pasta is very interesting…it turns out that I’ve been lying to my guests all these years too. PS. No pop quiz, please.

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    • I’m certainly glad, Eva, that today’s post was good enough so that you weren’t too shocked by my indiscretions. Thanks for your understanding — and for your gracious comments. I must admit, your description sure did nail Mom’s kitchen! When it was close to dinner time, that little room was a feast for the eyes and nose. We kids would walk through, trying to snag a tidbit without Mom catching us. Yeah. Like some 6 year old can pull something off undetected with Mom fewer than 5 feet away! She never did say anything, though.
      A pop quiz, eh? Now that’s a thought! “)

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  18. What a great post John. I love your stories – they are told in such a witty way and have so much rich family history. I hate to spoil your original recipe, but once I was at the Baby Health Clinic with Alfie and she asked me what I was feeding him. I told her I was introducing solids but only organic solids that I was buying and peeling and chopping and boiling up and mashing and putting into ice cube trays and freezing the pulling out a couple of cubes and thawing the little bits each night and…I exhausted her. She said, ‘You don’t always have to be so harsh on yourself you know, you could every now and then just give him a bowl of freshly cooked pasta sprinkled with cheese’! Without the pepper of course.

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    • Oh, Charlie Louie, you didn’t spoil my original recipe. That Baby Health Clinic must have stolen it from me! Maybe they were the ones that sold it to the Romans, too! You just don’t know who to trust these days. You must’ve been so tired with baby Alfie! You took an awful lot on, preparing and cooking all of his food like that. It isn’t as if that was the only thing you need do every day. Motherhood is so vastly under-appreciated! Really. Thanks for your comments today! 🙂

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  19. A wonderful post! Just goes to show the best dishes are often the most simple. This seems like a perfect dish to make just for me, myself and I. I’m a bit of a pepper fiend and just love to use the grinder … pepper and cheese, can’t go wrong. I really enjoyed all the information about different types of pasta. It’s fun to drop these arcane facts about food into conversation to dazzle (befuddle?) my friends. I’ll be keeping an eye out for tonnarelli now!

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    • Oh, Mar, if we ever dined together at the same table, I can only imagine doing so in a cloud of grated cheese and cracked pepper. What a sight! And oh, how tasty that pasta would be! I’m glad you enjoy this obscure pasta stuff. If you’re ever on Jeopardy and a category is “Pasta”, you’re gonna hit it big! Thanks for commenting, Mar, and have a great day!

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  20. I so enjoy the stories of your food and family memories. Simple pasta dishes can be so good especially when time is short. Pepper is my favorite seasoning…I can’t imagine doing without it.

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    • Thank you, Karen. Going through these comments, you and I aren’t alone in our love of pepper. As I mentioned in another reply, I barely seasoned the plate of pasta used in the picture of this post for fear of alienating most of you. After I settled on “the shot” I gave that plate a real good coating of cracked pepper. I was in heaven, as I’m sure you can imagine! 😉

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    • Thank you, Kathryn. Funny thing, I had no intention of blogging this recipe, ever! It was always my secret. Heck! If I had admitted to Mom or Dad that not only did I not have olive oil, I didn’t have the money to buy some, they would have thought me crazy! This dish was somewhat of an embarrassment when I first prepared it. As time went by, I loved it so much that I kept making it. Only after seeing that it was an actual dish, Cacio e Pepe, did I decide to write about it. Besides, it gave me an opportunity to introduce another of the 2 flat’s main characters to you all. And there are more from where he came from … 🙂

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  21. You Italians are so smart: if I made pasta with just cheese and pepper I would be eating it with butter, but it is Lent so I can just use pasta water and feel virtuous until I have walked off a few pounds. Great story about the forbidden pepper: my younger brother put pepper on everything so that he didn’t actually taste foods he didn’t like.

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    • You know, Sharyn, pasta is so pervasive in Italian cuisine and there are so many variations, I can’t help but wonder what did they eat before Marco Polo? It’s probably best that I don’t know, eh? You have to give your brother credit for ingenuity!

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  22. I too love simple pasta dishes. Actually all this week that is all I’ve been making, my kids are home on break this week. I just can’t find the time to make dinner, which is unusual for me. My 10 year old loves adding freshly grated Parmesan cheese, now is two younger brothers want to grate their own. My son prefers red hot pepper’s and I have to remind him to slow down on the spice! Great post and love reading them, so detailed too. Makes you feel like you are experiencing the moment! Have a great day!

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    • Thanks, Lisa. Mom really hated pepper — something I only found out since her passing — and that is part of the reason I could never add it to my pasta. Looking back, she only very rarely used red pepper flakes, too, although Dad often sprinkled it on his dishes at the table. Your boys are on the right track! “More cheese, please.” could have been my motto growing up. 🙂

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  23. This looks wonderful! Before I had to gluten free and dairy free I loved to eat like this. They now have gluten free pasta that is quite good, but without the cheese, it’s just not the same and could certainly never live up to homemade pasta!

    If you install “scratch and sniff” I’m in big trouble, it might just force me into falling off the gluten free and dairy free wagon.

    Your advice to Cecelia about the bird on her shoulder and the pirate is hilarious!! I really did LOL. 🙂

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    • Well, the way the gluten-free and dairy-free product lines are expanding with quality items, it won’t be much longer before there will be alternatives for just about anything one could want. At least I hope so.

      I did quite a bit of research before I brought Lucy into my home. Parrots are amazing creatures, not at all like having a dog or cat. I really should do a post or 2 about her and her “ways.” One of these days …

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  24. Oh, now you’ve done it.. off of the high pedestal you go… how could you lie to me? I thought you were different from all the other men in my life… oh, you can make…Cacio e Pepe?? Well, then, why didn’t you say so?! You’re back in my good books.. for good:)
    ps “Scratch and Sniff”.. for goodness sakes… I would never leave your blog if they had that app;)
    love it, love it, love it
    pps only cracked black pepper will do?? or what about white pepper?? Just wondering…

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    • So relieved to be back in your good books. Things go much better for me when my feet are planted firmly on the ground. Yes, scratch & sniff would be great — a veritable boon for monitor repairmen, I do believe. 🙂 Of course you can use white pepper. Any pepper will do. I use cracked pepper because it reminds me of Uncle’s plate. He really loved his pepper! Have a great weekend, Smidge!

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  25. I’m all about simple recipes, John! Especially when they turn out as gorgeous and delicious looking as this pasta. Seriously though, can we invent a scratch and sniff app? We’d be millionaires, and make A LOT of food bloggers very happy, including myself. 🙂

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    • I’m with you, Caroline. When it comes to cooking, especially pasta, less is more. Simple is best and I doubt you’ll find a pasta dish easier than this to make. I’d be willing to bet, there’s many more than one person working on some sort of aroma-capable monitor. And you’re right. Foodies everywhere would rejoice!

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  26. Hi John!
    You got me worried for a minute there. I thought that you were not really an Italian descendant, your name wasn’t John Bartolini, but Gustav Petrovski and that you have no idea of cooking…
    What a relief! 😉
    As always, I loved your story and the recipe sounds and looks delicious.
    Happy weekend!

    Like

  27. Hello!

    refreshing little read. thanks for sharing your knowledge,experience and thoughts. =)

    Can I ask u somethign, mgith sound dumb but… how to make home made pasta without a machine? for tagliatelli u have to press them out and then the otherside of the machine cuts them. thats pretty much all i know. is there any option to make pasta without a machine and is yes which type of pastas?

    thx!

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    • Hello!
      Yes, you do not need a machine to make tagliatelle. Once you’ve made your pasta dough, use a rolling pin to make a thin sheet of pasta about 1/16 inches (2 mm) thick. Fold that sheet of dough in half, and then in half again, and again, and again until you have a long piece of dough about 3 inches (8 cm) wide. With a sharp knife, cut the pasta noodles as wide as you like. Once you’ve cut them, unfold each noodle and use or let dry. I do not roll the dough by hand but you can see how I cut the noodles with a knife by going here to my Stazzopreti Recipe. I hope this helped you. Good luck!

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  28. Heehee! Can’t wait to start working with my “new” Marcato Atlas. Do you have a round spaghetti attachment to make your pasta for this or do you use chitarra? Yum. Thanks again for sharing your family’s culinary gems 🙂

    Like

    • I can make round spaghetti but I use a special attachment for my KA stand mixer. Santa gave me one 3 Christmases ago, just after Martha Stewart announced it. The attachment is more of an extruder rather than a cutter and forces the dough through dies to create the pasta. It makes spaghetti, bucatini, 2 sizes of macaroni, rigatoni, fusili, and rotini. These pastas are all have thicker walls than one might expect. They taste so much better though that one can overlook the differences. Even so, I pretty much use it for spaghetti and rigatoni only.
      I’m excited for you and cannot wait to hear how this goes for you. Considering the wonderful dishes you prepare, you’ll master that machine in no time. 🙂

      Like

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