Pasta was introduced in Argentina by our Italian ancestors. They brought their flavors and traditions and successive generations have kept them alive.
Italians are known for gathering the family round the table. Eating together brings the families together; it creates a sense of identity. The image of the nonna, Italian grandmother, kneading and rolling out the dough to make pasta for Sunday family lunch has become of our culture.
My paternal grandmother, although she didn’t come from an Italian family herself, got up at dawn of a Sunday to make killer pasta. Her specialties were fettuccine, spinach malfatti and sorrentinos. A sorrentino is a round ravioli stuffed with ham, ricotta cheese and mozzarella cheeses said to have been invented in a restaurant called Sorrento in the coastal city of Mar del Plata. She’s gone now and I’m kicking myself for never having asked her for the recipes.
Argentineans love their pasta. In 2009, the average consumption was between 8 and 9 kilos of pasta per person. However, I don’t think many people make pasta from scratch nowadays. It is time-consuming and there is no need because the fresh pasta shops take care of that.
These fresh pasta shops, fábricas de pastas, make many different kinds of pasta on the premises: gnocchi, spaghetti, cannelloni, lasagna, penne, ravioli, you name it. They also make and sell sauce –mainly red and Bolognese-, pesto and grated parmesan cheese. All you need to do is cook the pasta, heat the sauce and serve.
Not surprisingly, Sundays is their busiest day. The busiest time is close to midday. There is a fábrica de pastas round the corner form my parents. It is quite popular but it’s rather small. Every Sunday, people wait patiently in line for their pasta. The line is so long that it sometimes snakes out the door and round the corner.
Since I live in Texas and there aren’t any fábricas de pastas, I miss having the ability to buy freshly made pasta any time. I make up for it every time I visit home.