Breaking stereotypes one ravioli at a time

Published 8:29 am Thursday, July 20, 2017

When I spent my eight months teaching English in Spain, I had a lot of free time on my hands. Working only 12 hours a week and having little to no language skills to venture into the outside world with will do that to you.

I joined the local adult basketball team and had practices and games with them, but other than that and traveling, my calendar was barren.

To fill the free time and since I had to eat anyways, I experimented in the kitchen from time to time.

I traveled to Prague and when I got home I found a recipe and taught myself to make Czech potato dumplings, which was a staple food in Prague.

It was cold and rainy in my region so I taught myself to make chicken noodle soup from scratch and then decided to level up and added in some dumplings made from scratch instead of pasta.

Whenever I tell people about my culinary dalliances though, it is when I mention my adventures making pasta that gets that dumbfounded, confused look on their faces. I was bored, I was hungry and I had flour so a quick Google search later I was making ravioli.

Pasta and chicken were my go to meals in Spain (see quick and easy), but pre-made ravioli is always expensive so I decided to make it myself.

I had no pasta press or even a rolling pin so I rolled it out using a drinking glass and bam I was in business (I forgot to mention I also made the sauce from scratch to add to the difficulty).

When I got home from Spain, I showed off my new found skills for my family and some family friends complete with homemade cherry cheesecake gelato (my parents’ ice cream machine broke partway through, so my sister and I had to hand shake it like high school chemistry class).

Fast forward to last Friday and I didn’t have to be into work until the afternoon and same old story — hungry, bored, have flour, yada, yada, yada and I decided to try out my old skills again.

The recipe is pretty straight forward: two heaping cups of flour, four eggs, a tablespoon of olive oil and some salt. Then, mix until it becomes dough. Let it sit for a little, roll it out, fill it (I chose chicken and ricotta cheese), then crimp and boil. This time I didn’t make sauce as it wasn’t a preplanned event.

The issue is I still have no pasta press or even a rolling pin so I was back to a glass to roll it out. It left it a little thick and rubbery due to density when cooked, but overall pretty good.

I was pretty proud of myself and told some people at work. Cue the dumbfounded faces and disbelief that I made pasta.

My goal now is to go get that rolling pin, make the pasta a little thinner and prove those stereotypes wrong that yeah this single, mid-20s guy knows how to cook and even push a vacuum from time to time.

Brandon O’Connor is a staff writer at The Vicksburg Post. You may reach him at brandon.oconnor@vicksburgpost.com.