I love pasta.
I’m not Italian, nor do I know anyone who is. I’m a half-Polish, half-German kid from Boulder, Colorado. I should instead crave perogies, wienerschnitzel, or maybe vegan avocado toast sprinkled with microgreens.
So why exactly do I love pasta? Memories.
When I was seven, my favorite restaurant, Noodles, had mac-n-cheese that was legendary. However, it played second fiddle to Pasta Fresca, my little secret that hid down on the bottom right of the menu. I would order it every time, exactly the same: extra tomatoes, half spinach, double feta. Perfection.
But with my insatiable desire for perfection, came complications; it was impossible for a seven-year-old to routinely find his way to Noodles, come up with $8.50, and convince the cashier that No, I am not lost, and Yes, I know the feta will cost extra. Therefore, I had to get creative. Armed with a to-go menu and one brief shopping trip later, I attempted to make Pasta Fresca. I unfortunately learned, however, that an ingredient list alone contains no indication of measurement; a teaspoon quickly turns into a tablespoon. The result was a soupy, vinegary mess. That magic touch, that fresca, was missing. In fact, calling it Pasta Fresca would’ve been a crime. But it was my own–I made that pasta and there was something powerful in that.
然而我对完美的近乎执着的追求，却不是那么容易所能实现的。对于一个七岁的小男孩来说，拿着8.5美金，独自找到去Noodles的路，还要说服收银员： “不，我并不是走丢了 ”和“ 是，我知道再加一份羊乳酪会额外收费 ”，这简直是天方夜谭。因此，我只能开足脑筋来尝试做一份Pasta Fresca。在带着便携菜单购物之后，我遗憾的发现，材料表上并没有标注出合适的分量。我只能在茶匙抑或汤匙的计量中苦苦挣扎。最后的成果只是一团糟，一团像汤一样酸乎乎的东西。应有的鲜美，应现的魔法，都不见了。实际上，这一团酸乎乎的东西，压根就配不上Pasta Fresca这个名字。但，这是只属于我自己的Pasta Fresca——这是我亲手做的意面，我为我自己能做出它而感到骄傲。
Five years later, that warm glow of pride of my foray into Pasta Fresca was long gone. I had hit rock bottom. It was winter and I was living with my best friend. Sledding, snowball fights, and hot cocoa filled our days. So, how does a twelve-year-old living his dream hit rock bottom?
My brother Klaus was diagnosed with a rare form of childhood sarcoma that forced my family to New York City for treatment, while I was stuck in cold Colorado. Days bled into weeks, weeks into months of simply grinding away at school, craving the comfort of sleep, where I could forget my anxiety for a while. My sole comfort, the one thing that turned the worst of weeks into something bearable, was Gruffalo Pasta. Contrary to the name, it contained no mythical beast; it was simply penne with meat sauce, and yet there was something magical about it. Every Friday night, my friend’s family and I would sit down and eat Gruffalo Pasta with their famous garlic cheesy bread (worthy of its own essay). Laughs rang out as we played games, watched movies, and went sledding–we would be a family. Although my real family was thousands of miles away, every Friday night, home felt tangible.
我的弟弟Klaus被诊断出患有一种罕见的儿童恶性肉瘤，迫使我们全家，除了我，搬去纽约为他治病。而我则被留在了寒冷的科罗拉多。时光飞逝，日月如梭。每当白天我便独自一人在学校消磨着时间，渴望着睡眠时的温暖。只有在入睡后，我才能暂时的远离我的焦虑。还好，起码我有Gruffalo（直译为咕噜牛） Pasta在，给我最后的安慰，陪我度过最难熬的时光。恰恰和它的名字相反，这种意面和什么神秘怪兽没有丝毫联系，就是由简简单单的肉酱和通心粉所制成，可其中却又有些许的神奇之处。每当周五傍晚，我会和我朋友的家人坐在一起，配上可口的芝士蒜蓉面包（这芝士蒜蓉面包其中的故事，待日后我为你娓娓道来）分享Gruffalo Pasta。随着我们一起玩游戏，看电影，滑雪橇——就好像我们是一家人一样。即使，我真正的家人们与我相隔了几千英里，“家”这个词对我来说，也从虚无缥缈的词汇变成了触手可及的东西。
When my family returned, spring gave way to summer, and with it came neverending afternoons of skinned knees, balls lost over fences, new neighborhood friends, and Mac n’ Cheese. We ripped through box after box, new faces cycling through the kitchen as mac n’ cheese lunches became a neighborhood tradition. There was a sense of independence that came with it, as us kids cooked it ourselves–exactly how we liked it. We added extra butter and milk, peas, chicken, bacon; whatever our little hearts desired. The days seemed infinite, brimming with possibility and spontaneity, with the comfort that there was always a mac n’ cheese lunch at someone’s house to look forward to.
Pasta continues to weave its thread through my life, from the Christmas dinners of Pasta Puttanesca, my pesto business started in 8th grade, gifts of exotic pasta and sauces for my birthday, to the cross-country team’s pasta parties. Pasta is a narrative tightly intertwined with that of my own. It’s been said that one should look for good in the world, whether it be memories, hope for the future, or simple joys, find that good that drives your every day. I say you need look no further than what is in front of you. I found that goodness in a bowl of pasta.