Saturday, March 29, 2008

UNDERSTANDING PASTA

Some wise words from Carlo Middione, VIVANDE


We are cooks, not nutritionists, nor food biologists, nor scientists. However, we talk to lots of people who love to eat, many of whom are experts in food science.

An eminent animal nutritionist in Bologna reminded us that wheat, to be
digested at all by humans, must be first cooked in liquid. If we were ruminants, like cows, our multiple stomachs would send the cud to be chewed and chewed again, which would take care of this just fine. But humans have only one stomach; it needs care, attention, and respect.

Pasta, as we have been told, is best eaten al dente “to the teeth”, meaning it must be chewed and not just inhaled or slithered down the throat because it is gelatinous from over-cooking.

If the pasta is cooked correctly, or very firm with the “anima”, the “soul” in the middle of it barely visible, then it can be successfully chewed, which means it will remain in the mouth longer to promote more taste and enjoyment (we don’t taste or appreciate texture once food has passed our mouth) as well as digestion.

And, because the starch of the pasta remains intact longer when slightly UNDERcooked, it will act more like a complex carbohydrate, allowing you to digest it more slowly over a period of time. In this way, the food value has more staying power; you feel sustained, buoyant and happy. Even pastas cooked and served in soups should be cooked and served “al dente”.

When pasta is overcooked, - beyond “al dente”, it gets soft and mushy, and is more quickly converted to essentially simple sugar which hits the blood-stream immediately it is ingested, to produce a huge rise in energy.

However, this type of energy is short lived; it dies down almost immediately.
When that happens, you feel slow, dull and overly full.

This promotes gas and discomfort, and it will let you down to become hungry again, sooner; which tends to make you gain weight.

It might take a bit of trial and error and experience at the table and even in the kitchen to learn to enjoy eating pasta “al dente”, but once you do, you will never again accept overcooked pasta. You can count on it!

Buon Appetito !

1 Comments:

Anonymous Sonoko said...

Dear Carlo.
I read your blog, and it reminds me a lot of joys I spent with you in Vivande. I love to cook. You love to cook. We love to cook. It is necessary for us as cooks to put nutritional knowledge in our mind. We can finally enjoy the foods witch are tasty, flavorful, light temperature, light texture, and good for our health!
This picture,a Salsiccia, invites me to go back to your kitchen!
Sonoko

10:11 PM  

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