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The making of Pastaiolo

Making pasta is an art and a tradition that is passed on not for the sake of feeding your stomach but to feed your soul and give the tools to build family values in passing it on to others.

a year ago

Latest Post 30 years and counting by Victoria Esposito public

In any Italian household, all sorts of pasta dish based are a must to have. In some others, making homemade pasta is an opportunity to really pass on traditions and build relationships. At my parent's house was the only way to have lunch on Sunday. Our family fits definitely the latter scenario and in spades.

Seattle is known for a place where building relationships is harder than other places. When you have an uncontested entry on Wikipedia, that's the definition of hard, right there!

For years we have been making pasta with someone every two weeks, making food together, sharing stories, and enjoying each other's company by the table. Being a nerd at some point I used our Pasta Sunday with Esposito's as a data collection system for an AI project. But that's another story and rather boring if you are not in tech and are a bit crazy...

Our youngest has been a pasta terminator since she was a toddler, she has traveled with us across many continents and tasted, without complaints, all types of local food.

Look at the expression of joy for a spaghetti substitute 😆

But yet as true Italian genes demand, in case of emergency (tantrums, terrible twos, you name it) she pulled the lever for either a simple Margherita or tomato sauce spaghetti dish. And all of the sudden the universe was in balance again.

Two years ago in Rome explaining to an American tourist when the pasta is overcooked!

And she didn't just eat pasta, she learned how to make it on her own, to the point that sharing photos with family overseas lead my cousin Ciro from Italy to send me all kinds of new kitchen accessories his company was selling to Italians.

When making pasta you want to dry them off for a while before boiling them and this particularly applies to tagliatelle. Over the years, from grandma to my own family I have seen many impromptu solutions for the task.

Back in Seattle, we thought we had reached Nirvana when we found this Ikea kitchen cloth holder that on Sunday could serve as a non-sticky solution right next to the boiling water.

Ikea!

When moving to Moloka'i, our mindset has been that we want to blend in and not replicate what we already knew into the new place. We wanted to embed it into the new lifestyle and create our own new way. That translates as "don't buy something from somewhere" but make your own solution with what you have around you. Which really has been the mantra for all projects we tackled so far. Using mother nature as much as feasible and putting some brain into how to accomplish the end result.

Building anything on motherland is cheaper, easier, and has more than one option. Trying to do the same on an island is not only silly it is also a way, at least in my view, of not respecting the island or its ethos. Some they call it survivalism, or off-grid mentality. For me, it's a cross between liberal arts, ingenuity, and spiritual beliefs.

Steve Jobs used to talk about this subject during his Keynote when launching a new product. Despite his marketing skills, I truly believe in the message he was sharing about how his company crafts products for the masses.

A couple of Sundays ago Victoria said:

we should figure out something for drying the pasta, honey.

When the sentence ends with "amore" (my love in Italian) or honey or even worse "what do you think", you have to pay very close attention.

After so many years of being together, I know better. It's not a shared discussion that is happening, it's not my opinion that is summoned.  The "what do you think?" it's a snare trap in disguise and in that scenario, I am the proverbial rabbit.

Snare trap

It's more like: You going to take care of this, right?!

So, like a good husband that needs brownie points for when he will start the next discussion: I think, I need a new Evil, you know for having options. I did, take care of it. My friend Steven knows what I am talking about here!

Let's do it.

In my head:

[deep voice] Mario, if you should choose to accept, the mission is to build a pasta drying tower solution for your family. Collect brag points on achievement and feel really good about yourself when adding more carbs to your diet... This message will not self-destruct because of fire hazards in your area.

[silent me] It's an impossible task. The stakes (literally) are too high but someone got to do it or my credit card will be used on Amazon by the girls and you know that they never buy just one thing... I will do it. I accept the mission, whatever it takes.

I found a piece of a dead Kiawe branch, cleaned it, and using a Kerf ripping blade I start milling. That type of blade allows me to not heat up the wood while it is cutting and most important it cuts much faster, I sliced and diced the little fellow.

As I write this piece, I realized the irony of the fact that I am writing about an Italian tradition for a piece of wood crafted by an Italian, and the blade I purchased for the milling, unknowingly, is made by an Italian company!

for the table saw

As always, I sketched what I was going to do because that part of the process allows me to foresee where I could tsk... what's the technical term here... oh yes! Fuck up?!

the plan!

I had never used this type of blade before so I did a test run with a scrap piece of another project and I was marveled at its efficiency and flawless. That scrap piece ends up being the base for the project. Never waste anything and particularly, time.

I wanted to leave one side "raw" and the other parts fully flashed and some sides with raw edges

succeeded in my intents

I then cut three pieces about 3/4 of an inch high to form a cross that would be the base of the pasta tower. It had to be heavy to avoid that placing pasta on one side would tip the tower.

After the cuts, I glued the halves and used a clamp to hold them together.

I have a relationship with time that falls under the category of a time nerd. Therefore, doing nothing while the glue was setting is not in my nature so I "dressed up" and start cutting grass with DrPower.

Vickie said that those chaps are sexy so I strike a failed pornstar pose.

Margot and I got back to the project, drilled holes of about 1/4 in different horizontal angles to allow maximum utilization when placing pasta over sticks that go through the holes. Victoria had bought some wood sticks in Maui at Walmart, I am guessing for some craft project she had in mind... oh well 😈  

The sticks are tight but removable with minimum force
the dark side of the pasta holder

The only thing left to do is to dig a socket for 1/8 bolt so that PASTAIOLO can be disassembled when not in use. Naturally, some coating and kiss the cook touch before delivering to the forever 39 years old lady of the house and my job is done.

A few days back I had noticed that the toilet was leaking water from the bottom and while the tower was drying off, we decided to fix it. Not something that I was looking forward to doing because replacing the wax of a toilet always ends in mysterious ways. I have done it several times over the years and it has always been a heavy-duty and messy adventure.

This time and honor to the builder of the house, the actual replacement was a straightforward fix. The whole setup was properly installed and the actual issue was that the wax ring probably was the same as when they built the house because was "thin and cooked". Moving the actual toilet on/off took some Herculian strength worshiping because that thing was flipping HEAVY!

I am evidently very strong but I felt a wuss when trying to move that poop colosseum. I don't know what they used to cast it but man... yeah, you got the point, was heavy and I felt challenged...

we found that the wall behind the toilet was still the original color, so my Picasso painter did an impromptu fix.

When I got back to my original project, the polyurethane was dried thanks to the marvelous weather we get all year round here on the island, and in a couple of days, we're going to use it to make Margot's favorite dish. Pasta with seafood.

It was a quick and dirty list of projects and no poop was harmed in the process of making and fixing those projects.

Stay happy, have a bLife moment every day. 🤙🏽🌴😎

Mario Esposito

Published a year ago