Books – Knock pasta into shape

2011-05-26 10:18

Curvy. Willowy. Conical. Squat. Angular. Round. Long. Hollow.

Whatever your favourite shape of pasta, you will discover that form is inextricably linked to function after devouring Caz Hildebrand and Jacob Kenedy’s The Geometry of Pasta.

This cookbook is different – mainly because you won’t find a single picture of a completed dish, or one of food being prepared.

The only illustrations are designer Hildebrand’s striking black and white images that represent each pasta shape – from the familiar spirals of fusilli to the large, flat sheets of lasagne and beyond, to shapes you’ll never see in the supermarket.

This isn’t chef Kenedy’s first foray into publishing. He was head chef at Moro, the Moorish restaurant in London that has inspired three cookbooks by the owners, Sam and Sam Clark, and his creations were in the books’ contents.

But this ode to the Italian’s staple starch is his first since opening his own regional Italian restaurant, Bocca di Lupo in Soho.

Before Kenedy gets into the nitty-gritty of making pasta, he covers the basics.

The use of salt, how fat determines taste and how to cook the perfect pasta.

He also takes the pasta punter through the differences between semolina pasta and egg pasta, as well as advanced egg pastas for
the zealots.

Best of all in this introduction is the inclusion of three basic tomato sauces – light, medium and rich.

And, as always with good peasant food, less is more – and there’s little more than tomatoes, garlic and good olive oil in these sauces.

Kenedy introduces each pasta shape, the size it should be, other names it may have, its properties, how it’s made and its traditional uses. Best of all, Kenedy’s recipes are easy – farfalle (bow tie pasta) with smoked salmon, asparagus and cream.

What’s not to like? How about gnocchi in sausage sauce or spaghettini with a raw tomato sauce – almost impossible to make here with the terrible tomatoes in the shops.

You’ll have to grow your own to get this right.

There are endless recipes, all easy, all tasty, but what makes this book stand out is that it explains why penne is best with arrabbiata and why, traditionally, fettuccine is served with alfredo sauce.

A must-have for pasta lovers – whether you make it or just eat it.

The Geometry of Pasta by Caz Hildebrand and Jacob Kenedy
Publishers:  Boxtree
Pages: 288
Price: R246

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