January 24, 2018

Tortellini vs Tortelloni, do you know the difference?

Someone at some point must have gotten the tortelloni and tortellini confused and started stuffing the tortellini with cheese - probably they thought it wouldn't make any difference.

Ha! that's because they don't know the Bolognese who take their food extremely seriously - as seriously as some people take their sports teams.

Tortellini with meat are a specialty of Bologna and they are served in a brodo (soup). The pasta stuffed with cheese are Tortelloni, and they are traditionally served in a sage and butter sauce so you can taste the amazing stuffing you went to the trouble of making.

The tortellini, with emphasis on the ini because they are tiny, are some serious work. In the tortellini class we make the stuffing according to the recipe deposited at Bologna’s Chamber of Commerce, we make the brodo and then we roll the dough so thin we can actually read a recipe through the dough…yes, that thin. Its a lot of work which is why I keep the tortellini from scratch lesson for advanced students or for a 2nd or 3rd lesson. In terms of how many you need to prepare per person- you should plan on preparing anywhere between 6-8 tortelloni per person while you will need around 20 tortellini per person. Hence, why the tortellini are a lesson by themselves.

Some time ago I wrote a post dedicated entirely to the tortellino (singular, but no one eats just one so think tortellini, the plural). You read all about it here: bolognese-stuffed-pasta-tortellino

Having said all that, there is a very logical reason why tortellini and tortelloni differ is size and it has to do with the flavor of the filling: the cheese filling is flavorful but delicate, you need more of it in every bite so you can actually taste it (otherwise you could put anything, cheap or low quality ingredients in there and you wouldn't know the difference). Hence the pasta shape sorpresine... The tortellini filling on the other hand is extremely flavorful and so you don't need a lot to actually taste it. and no, putting a bunch of the tortellini stuffing in a large pasta would not work, it would totally overwhelm your palate then nothing else you ate would seem tasteless (remember we take our food seriously).

Oh and one last thing, anyone who serves tortellini in anything but a meat broth would probably be ostracized in Bologna! Some youngsters prefer the tortellini in a cream sauce so you might find it served that way - but do not request it, just check if its on the menu.

Anyway, just some information about Tortellini

January 9, 2018

THANK YOU, 2007-2017.

Just a quick note to say THANK YOU to all the students I have encountered in the past 11 (eleven!) years.

When I first taught how to make pasta, I hoped that my students would feel they had learned something useful and that they would be able to recreate the experience successfully at home. I never expected that I'd spend more years as a pasta teacher than in any of my previous careers!

Despite some doubts, I continued teaching because several school teachers, who have studied the Reggio -Emilia methods, as well as professional chefs and cooking teachers have given me positive feedback and encouraged me.

Every year, I've met people in my lessons that I never dreamt I'd meet, in the sense of incredibly wonderful people. I have met Vice Presidents of Fortune 500 companies, owners and ex-founders of many well-known companies who I won't mention to protect their privacy; people who worked for FIFA, people who worked for Google and other technological startups in the technology field (I worked in technology for some years so recognized the names). I have had many fascinating conversations.

Perhaps even more amazing were the adults who accompanied a group of 5 severely handicapped teens to a class of mine. Also, the two professional story tellers who told me about their career (I asked). One of them had been tasked with telling the story of a woman who survived the Holocaust. Both of these encounters humbled me.

There were many people who made me smile; Mark aka Marco from Austria; John aka Giovanni from Hawaii who fell asleep while I explained how to roll the pasta but then demonstrated he was listening by rolling the dough out perfectly. The 2 young couples from Israel who ripped the disposable aprons off each other at the end of the lesson. The couple in their 70s travelling around the world to eat at the best places. The absent minded professor who wasn't so good with knives, the student who I guessed was a surgeon by how he cut the pasta. Also the couple who drove from ex-Yugoslavia with an extremely well-behaved giant poodle! And the sweet young couple who met me at the market but had parked their camper outside my building! Also the fellow who caught his pasta sheet as it fell with his leg and immediately claimed, the pants are clean! There have been so many situations that have made me my day extra special.

I've also cared about my students: some have told me about some serious personal problems during class and I once had to call an ambulance because a student felt very sick during the market tour (she had been sick for several days but kept ignoring it).

I have had also had some very special students, extremely perceptive and emphatic from all walks of life. People with whom I made a connection - some I stay in touch with and others I haven't but that connection happened as they also felt it. Even my late father's boss came as a student - he said to me, you look like a guy who used to work for me! Neither I nor his family group knew of the connection before we met.

But I'm not perfect and have had my off days: that 1 group per year when my students ask questions without listening to the answers and then repeat the questions stresses me and I become impatient. Or when I haven't slept well and mix my languages up. But I do learn from my mistakes and have taken preventive actions to avoid those off days.

Thank you to all the people who shared their life stories with me, students travelling alone, couples, friends, and families travelling together. It has been fascinating to meet and befriend all of you. I wish I could stay in touch with all of you.

Who would have ever thought that being a cooking teacher would have turned out to be SUCH a fascinating experience in professional and personal growth? You teach but you are also taught.

THANK YOU ALL for a significant and lovely past 11 years
PS this was meant to be a quick note and it evolved into a looong note.

PSS and I haven't told you about the twenty something young man who said his goal was to become an Italian nonna (grandma)! or the many students who arrived with gifts: cookbooks from famous chefs in their towns/country, aprons, kitchen towels, books for children (from people in the publishing industry), food items from their country. The more I think about it, the luckier I feel!