A Centuries-Old Secret to Great Pasta

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Photo by Sho Kuwamoto/Flickr CC


From all my readings of the old ways of pasta, a very simple cooking technique that dates to medieval times caught my attention. Because it's both historically rooted, is so easy to make most any time you want, and because it tastes so good, I figured I could put it in here. It's easy to build into your regular eating routines, especially when you're in a hurry.

All you have to do is stick a piece of pork rind or pancetta into your pasta cooking water. It really does give the pasta a nice bit of added flavor for very little cost, as it did 500 years ago and still today. It's great way to use up ham bones or prosciutto rinds.

Cook the pasta very al dente, drain, and quickly dress with some olive oil and grated Parmigiano or Pecorino cheese. In the old days in Naples they ate the spaghetti with their hands but you can use a fork if you like. To me this is what fast food could be all about. Takes almost no time at all but when you use great pasta, great cheese, etc., it tastes fantastic!

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Ari Weinzweig is co-founder of Zingerman's Community of Businesses, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He is also the author of Zingerman's Guide to Good Eating. More

After graduating from University of Michigan with a degree in Russian history, Ari Weinzweig went to work washing dishes in a local restaurant and soon discovered that he loved the food business. Along with his partner Paul Saginaw, Ari started Zingerman's Delicatessen in 1982 with a $20,000 bank loan, a staff of two, a small selection of great-tasting specialty foods, and a relatively short sandwich menu. Today, Zingerman's is a community of businesses that employs over 500 people and includes a bakery, creamery, sit-down restaurant, training company, coffee roaster, and mail order service. Ari is the author of the best-selling Zingerman's Guide to Good Eating and the forthcoming Zingerman's Guide to Better Bacon.

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