Wednesday, January 6, 2010

ravioli and truth

I have a confession: I hate making ravioli. I have another confession: that was a lie.

Truth is a dubious thing. You think you've got something right, and you go about your life, secure in your knowledge, but then you learn something new, and you realize that, what you'd thought you'd had right, you actually had pretty wrong. This is more or less the story of me and homemade ravioli. Until yesterday, I pretended that I loved making ravioli, and I'd make them for people, you know, to show off, but really, they were always a big pain in the ass because my technique was all wrong, the technique I'd thought I had right, and so making them was not a joy but a kind of masochistic punishment. I'm so over it.

These beef ravioli were actually fun to make. They weren't so fun to eat, because the filling was a touch too salty, but they were fun to make. They were fun because, after two years of bad technique, I'd finally learned how to handle the dough properly.

For those of you out there who (a) own a pasta rolling machine and (b) have the inclination to make ravioli, I will supply this piece of advice: if the manual tells you to fold the sheet of dough length-wise into thirds, and then roll it with a pin until it is thin enough to pass through the widest opening of your roller, and then to repeat this process nine more times before proceeding to thinner openings, DO IT. And by all means, do not fold the dough width-wise because folding it length-wise seems counter-intuitive. That's what I did. I assumed the instruction manual that came with the rolling machine was wrong, that the Italian manufacturer hired a translator on the cheap and thereby the manual got botched. I carried that truth around with me for way too long.

And there's the too-salty filling. Salt, unlike some other things, has an absolute truth value. When there's too much, there's too much. In this instance, there was just a little too much, and I was able to eat fifteen ravioli without needing to drink a gallon of water between each one. But there's a parting trick for you: if you over salt a bit, just keep a big glass of water handy. You'll be okay. Everything will be okay.

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