Pasta Masochist

I have a nice little pasta machine. It’s the hand crank style, nothing super fancy. I’ve had it for more than a decade. I’ve used this machine maybe once a year. Every so often, I decide I want to make fresh pasta, and I drag the medieval contraption out from whatever generally unopened, dark cabinet it’s been hidden in and set out to make something some Italian grandma would be proud of.

Then I remember that I am a masochist. I never have this beautiful, simple product you see them trotting out on Food Network. You know, that pasta that takes them 10 minutes to prep, 3 minutes to cook and is beautiful and looks like something Olive Garden and its likes might put on their to-go menu. Ya, I don’t make that.

No. First, I decide to make the most complicated thing I can think of, like three different kinds of ravioli. I mean, I can make a vegan ravioli, a cheese (i.e. vegetarian) ravioli, and a meat ravioli for us carnivores, and present them all on the table at exactly the same time, right? Just so we’re clear, I cannot even manage to roll the dough through the machine, guiding it while at the same time hand-cranking that barbaric torture device!

This saga always starts the same. This is meant to be a bonding experience with myself and our youngest daughter. We’re both so excited to make it happen. Most recently, we even went shopping first to get a ravioli stamp and pick up a couple of ingredients. The first part goes fine. We make our pasta dough and refrigerate it to cool. Okay, see, this is working. Then we make our filling and all goes perfectly well.

Then comes the dough rolling. Yep, this is where the train starts to come off the tracks. It seems no matter how much flour I employ, there is always dough sticking to, well…everything. And of course, there is the dough getting a hole in it or stretching in some odd variation of shape that is in no way going to resemble any pasta anyone has ever given a name.

Halfway into this frustration and after we’ve rolled maybe two pieces of dough (out of a mere 8), the kid is over this whole process. She’s bored and antsy, and I’m trying not to get cranky. Finally, I ask if she’s bored with this whole thing. and she admits as much, which is a great sign of maturity and knowing your limits. I utter a huge sigh of relief as she leaves the kitchen, and I can now feel free to swear like a sailor at the barbaric contraption and the dough and anything else that I come across.

This is the point where my husband usually comes in to try to help or at least prevent what he sees as a bubbling volcano about the erupt and cause irreparable damage to all in its wake. He helps wherever possible while trying to navigate the minefield that is me when things are not working the way I want in the kitchen. I’ve taken on way too much and spent hours in a room that could double as a sauna, and yet I’m still determined the meal is getting on the table. Luckily, he’s pretty handy with that pasta machine. Once he prevented what he sees as the impending explosion, he’s trying to balance tiptoeing around the landmines and trying to be both helpful and encouraging as I lament all that went wrong and how inept I’m feeling.

Eventually, some form of pasta lands on the table. The flavors are usually good. There will not be any pictures of these meals. And again, I swear that contraption is done. Then I go into my game review and start thinking about how I can try to correct all the errors and get it right next time. Yep, the machine is put away until next time.

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