October 17, 2007

On Mark Bittman’s pasta advice


Photo courtesy of sxc.hu

Well that’s just great.

As soon as I start to like one thing one way, Mark Bittman goes ahead and tells me to revert to my old ways. In case you don’t know, Mark Bittman writes for the food section of the New York Times, which unofficially makes him the g-d of the food world. Alright, maybe he’s second to Alice Waters.

But anyway, we’re arguing about pasta. Mark suggests using: MORE sauce, LESS pasta.

If you cooked me pasta a year ago, you would have seen me pile the sauce on like the world’s sauce supply was running out. But lately, I’ve been complementing my pasta with much smaller heaps of sauce, maybe only one spoonful. Gasp! I decided I don’t need to douse the stuff to take in the flavor, and somehow it just seemed healthier.

But now, NOW Mark Bittman, the g-d of the food world of course, tells me it’s not. I appreciate the advice Mark, I really do, but it just figures that now I like less sauce better. Couldn’t you have made your revelation a year ago when I could have told you I’ve been doing that all along?

According to Mark, the reason he makes his suggestion is because eating ‘harmless and innocent’ pasta can be just as bad as eating “white bread or biscotti.” He counters the criticism Italians gave him years ago about the American way of eating pasta: too much sauce atop overcooked pasta. These pasta experts encouraged us Americans to let the pasta speak for itself and be mildly complemented by an accompanying sauce.

But Mark listened to his gut (maybe because it was getting bigger) and decided to encourage Americans to go the healthy route.

Well, it’s possible we’re not talking about the same thing here. Mark suggests using or making your own sauces solely out of vegetables, and while I do enjoy vegetable sauces very much, I often eat mine with meat sauce. With meat sauce, comes extra grease, so to be encouraged to “pile it on” seems to counteract the health factor (which I do acknowledge he notes in his article.)

So Mark, I’ve come to the conclusion that I will consider your advice when the sauce selection is healthy, but I hope the rest of America doesn’t mistake your health tips for permission to glop on the alfredo and think they’re doing themselves a favor.

BUT luckily for me, Mario Batali IS on my side. Batali thinks the main feature of the dish is most certainly the pasta, and us Americans and our relatively newfound turn-around shouldn’t have it any other way.

Here are some pasta recipes Mark might like (assuming you use his proportions):
Dilly Pasta
Eggplant Spaghetti Sauce
Cappelini Primavera
Cheese Tortellini with Vegetables
Spinach and Broccoli Pasta

What guidelines do you follow?

-Hillary, planning on “starting with tomato sauce
Editor, Recipe4Living

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