The 7 Most Common Mistakes When Cooking Pasta

cooking pasta boiling waterBy Patti Mays

According to a recent pasta survey taken among Italian chefs and experts – these are the 7 most common mistakes most people make when cooking pasta…

1. Not using a large enough cooking pot

This is probably the most common “pasta cooking” mistake. The very minimum that the experts recommend is four quarts of water for one pound of pasta. But Italian chefs and pasta experts use more than that; between five and six quarts of water for each pound of pasta. This gets the very best results.

Why is all that water necessary? Because pasta needs enough space to move around in order to cook properly. Not using enough water causes the pasta to stick to the side of the pan, which makes it thick, sticky and unpleasant. When you use enough water you will definitely notice the difference in the taste and texture.

2. Adding oil to the cooking pot

It is hard to determine just where this idea came from originally but 44 per cent of Americans say they add olive or other oil to the cooking water. I suspect the idea is that the oil will stop the pasta from sticking together. But what it actually does is make the pasta too slick for any sauce to stay on it properly. If you have used enough water and remember to stir your pasta regularly as it is cooking, it will not stick together. Therefore – no need to add oil.

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Benvenuti a Bergamo

By Marjorie Eisenach

Eccoci a Bergamo! While arriving in Bergamo via a brief flight from Birmingham, England, I started to reminisce about my first arrival in Italy over 40 years ago. As a college junior I had taken an overnight train from Paris, arriving in Milan early in the morning in one of those old fashioned sleeper cars that held six individuals in slings attached to the compartment walls.

Sleep deprived after nine hours in a train, the central station in Milan seemed like a combination of Dante’s inferno and an amusement park with smoke billowing in the cavernous space and pigeons winging their way to the lofty top of the station roof. I heard my first word spoken in Italian by an Italian in Italy, facchino, or porter.  

Last night’s arrival was more pedestrian, but had its own highlight and is somewhat indicative of the changes in Italy. I sat next to a young Indian woman on my crowded plane flight, which had been dominated by the wails of an infant who had trouble adjusting to the atmospheric changes in cabin pressure.  I didn’t realize that the Indian woman spoke Italian until we were landing, and we started to chat about her recent day trip sightseeing in London.

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Italian-American Profiles of Success: Matthew Carulli

Photo April 2014Chairperson of the Italian Nationality Room at the University of Pittsburgh

Back in 2007, Matthew Carulli won a scholarship from the Italian Nationality Room at the University of Pittsburgh for a summer study abroad program in Syracuse, Sicily. That trip led to another study abroad trip two years later. Ever since that first trip, Matthew has wanted to give back to the Italian Room’s scholarship fund. He always thought it would be in the form of donating back enough money to fund someone else’s trip, but it turns out instead he was nominated and elected to the position of chairperson in the Italian Room.

Matthew grew up in Burgettstown (Washington County), attended the University of Pittsburgh where he studied Italian and Accounting, and currently lives in Pittsburgh. He works as a Translations Coordinator for eResearchTechnology in Pittsburgh, where he implements translations on electronic devices for pharmaceutical research studies. Matthew has been married to his wife Lorraine, who teaches Italian, for almost three years now.  

Ciao Pittsburgh recently spoke with Matthew about his role as the chairman of the Italian Nationality Room at the University of Pittsburgh, his Italian roots, his favorite Italian traditions and what he likes to do for fun. 

CP: As the chairman of the Italian Nationality Room at the University of Pittsburgh, what are some of your plans in your new role?

Matthew: I would really like to increase the group’s membership to a younger demographic, so we’re trying to do more gatherings like happy hours and events in conjunction with other Italian groups in the city. At our last event I invited back a number of other former winners of the scholarship to share how the scholarship affected their lives, so I hope that the former winners (especially recent winners) become more involved as well.

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Italian-American Profiles of Success: Joe Motisi 

2014-06-18 13.51.55Local Cartoonist Enjoys Making People Laugh 

Joe Motisi describes himself as a jack-of-all-trades and master at some. He’s held just about every job imaginable, but studied broadcasting and is a former talk radio board operator and producer. Currently, this Chicago native—and current Pittsburgher—convinces people to buy very expensive things for a living. Joe is also a cartoonist which he calls his second full-time job. He runs an online site, Rubber Chicken Noodle Soup, which houses his collection of comic strips.

We recently chatted with Joe to learn more about cartooning, his comic strips, as well as his Italian heritage. 

CP: How did you get into the career of a cartoonist?

Joe: Ah, if only it paid all my bills! That is the goal. It is my second full time job. I have drawn cartoons for as long as I can remember. I started off tracing the Peanuts and Garfield and then went on to make my own strip about a cat named Socks (this was Clinton-era America and the president had a cat named Socks) My Grandmother saved all those strips and likes to torment me with them on occasion. I always drew through high school and in life and went on my merry way to trying to find a real job. After having a very early mid-life crisis I decided to attempt stand up comedy and did that for about four years. I stepped away from stand up comedy but still wanted to make people laugh, so I went back to drawing comic strips. It has taken a few years to hone that craft, much like stand up comedy, you have trial and error and work to find your voice, and every day I feel like I am speaking more clearly. 

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Is Florence, Italy the New Silicon Valley?

Screen Shot 2014-06-20 at 7.15.12 AMWhen you think of Florence, Italy your firsts thoughts aren’t of high tech devices, men in space and the Internet but that could change over the next few years. This beautiful Tuscany city, the birthplace of the Renaissance is now moving into the technology age.

The Web Technology Academy is opening in the city center near the statue of David and thousands of other pieces of priceless works of art. The school plans to teach students the skills they need to join the ranks of Da Vinci, Galileo and Michelangelo. Students may not create their first masterpiece out the gate but the four-week course will show them how to build their own websites, create great graphics, sell products online and make money with their own ecommerce business. The Web Tech Academy even claims that hard working students could have their website fully functional by the time they complete the course. This intensive program is not your typical website or ecommerce training program. It is an immersive, fast paced environment, engineered after the style of bootcamps that have become popular in Silicon Valley, USA.

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