Another week has past and this means it’s time for another edition of one of the Guide’s favorite things to cover in the whole entire planet.  Maybe the entire universe as well.  Because what would the world be without food?  Food brings people together, even if it makes it so people can’t French kiss because French kissing with food in one’s mouth would be strange.  And what could be worse than being considered strange, unless you are, of course, Dr. Strange?  Then we would be talking about a whole other type of strange.  Then again, maybe we just pronouncing his name wrong and we need to call him Strand-Jay.  But I digress.  This week the Guide celebrates one of the greatest food holidays in the history of the planet: World Pasta Day on October 25th.

I know some of you may be partial to the Taco, or even have desserts that you love more such as the banana split.  And while I may sympathize with your preferences, who says you can’t add a little bit more love to your life?  (Although maybe you should not be saying this to your significant other.)  But I think we can always be polyamorous when it comes to food.  Because who doesn’t love some form of that delicious noodle which can be combined with hundreds of different sauces and flavors to make food heaven?  (shhh!!!  No disagreeing with the writer.)

As far as my own experience with pasta, I have to admit that I was less than impressed when I had my first taste of spaghetti and meatballs.  I don’t know whether it was the round noodle which I thought was too large or the sauce which was too tart, or I didn’t really like the meatballs.  (Although my daughter would kill me if she knew that I didn’t like the meatballs of spaghetti and meatballs.)  All I can say was that when my brother liked the dish, I did not.

Of course, I would let my prejudice against one type of pasta get the better of me.  So I resolved to try different forms.  Mostly I remember tons of pasta dishes at all kinds of church potlucks they had growing up.  Most of those dishes were some variant on lasagna.  And I have to say that I quickly fell in love with all of the different types of lasagnas with meats and cheeses.  They would stuff that dish with various meats and cheeses and I would practically swallow it whole.  Lasagna was my little slice of heaven.

But then would come out trying out different noodles.  My mother would make the uber-Americanized version of pasta where she would make macaroni and cheese and then add meatballs.  That was a dish I couldn’t get enough of, so long as my mother would not add onions to the pasta.  Onions cooked to translucent and not in some kind of a soup seem to turn my stomach.  And so I had to convince my mother that the macaroni dish was perfect enough without adding the onions.

From there I would fall in love with Fettuccini Alfredo, linguini with clams in a vodka sauce, and pasta di mare.  My love of pasta would grow and grow. Then one day I decided to try out the spaghetti and meatballs once again.  And what’s crazy was that I found I really did like the dish years later.  Whether this occurred due to my tastes getting more complex or just having someone make a better meatball, I cannot say.   What I can say is that I love pasta. All different types and all different flavors appeal to me.  This makes going to an Italian restaurant and making a decision about pasta akin to torture.  But this torture I would love every single time.


The Fake Food History Behind Pasta

Those familiar with the Guide will know we have reached the point in the blog where it’s time to discuss fake food history.  What would the world be without fake histories and fake holidays we ask?  Because no one can be happy without knowing the fake truth behind some of our most marvelous dishes and entrees.

This means that the Guide and its crack research team will scour the depths of the deep web and plumb the riches in store.  Or it could mean Dr. Emmet Brown inspired us to make a time machine and go back in time using the Wayback machine we invented.  Or it’s just possible that we make up a bunch of silliness for you to decide, with maybe a kernel of truth buried amidst its abundant treasures.  We believe in bringing this fake truth to you, and for you to decide for yourself about the contents.  So welcome again to another edition of fake food history as the Guide proudly presents the fake food history of pasta.

Once upon a time, in the land of Bologna, way before anyone called it Bologna, there was a migrant farm worker who would send in his grains to the Caesar so that they wouldn’t kill him and sell his entire family into slavery.  Because Caesars were benevolent that way.  This man’s name was Giuseppe.  He would work out in the fields at all lengths of the day to keep his family together so they wouldn’t be sold into slavery. Long days in the fields would make for long nights.  He symbolized the glue that held his family together.  So his family and neighbors took to calling him, Giuseppe Pasta.  Which really means Giuseppe Paste for those linguists out there.

One day, after a long month of processing the grain for his Roman masters, Giuseppe crashed over one of the sacks of flour he milled.  This was a special sack reserved for the Caesar himself.  Unfortunately, Giuseppe was particularly susceptible to night sweats which would drench his beds and made his wife frequently want to sleep by herself.  On this particular night, he sweat so badly that all of the flour turned to a paste-like substance.  And when he added more flour it did become less paste-like but a stretchy form of dough.

Giuseppe’s wife Lasa had been backing a meat dish in a tomato sauce that morning for eating when the Giuseppe would return home from the fields with his two sons.  Giuseppe ran into her in a panic that morning, asking what to do with all of this flour that was supposed to go to the Caesar.  Eh looked at him for a while, not sure whether to laugh or to cry.  The thought of slavery made her cringe.  So she took this very seriously.

So Lasa did the only thing that she could think of and started cooking with this stretchy dough.  She thinned it out and mixed it in with her meat mixture and added a little bit of curded up goats milk to go with it.  She cooked and she cooked until she prepared tons of dishes to take to the Caesar.  Expecting to be killed but hoping to the gods that she would be spared with her kids and possibly her husband she and Giuseppe brought the dishes to the Caesars chef.

This displeased the chef.  So he brought the dishes into to Caesar, who with his entourage laughed at the funny looking red concoction.  He sent for Giuseppe with the intention of executing him as sport for his guests.   So he sent for the exceedingly perspicacious gentleman.

“What do you call this Señor Pasta?” the Caesar demanded.  (Ok, I admit to taking liberties with the language.)

Giuseppe thought for a moment and as quick-witted as he could be stated, “Pasta a la Lasa di Bologna.”  He tried to say it with as straight a face as possible.

“And what happened to my flour?” The Caesar inquired.

Unbeknownst to the Caesar his wife, who was considered dim-witted had dug into the dish of pasta and couldn’t seem to get enough of it.  She was licking the sauce off of her fingers, she enjoyed it so much.

Giuseppe stared dumbfounded at the Caesars wife digging into the delicious dish as the Caesar began to berate him.  One by one Caesar’s entourage began staring the wife lapping up the food.  The Caesar himself didn’t turn around to look at his wife until he recognized the rest of the room became silent.  The Caesar turned to look at her.

She was lapping up the lasagna and letting the meat, noodles and goat curds cover her face as she loved the dish so much.  When she realized that the rest of the room was staring at her she stopped and looked at the Caesar staring disapprovingly at her.

She picked up the dish and handed it to the Caesar and said, “Pasta di Lasagna.”  (She tended to blend words as she didn’t speak very well.)  The people in the room laughed heartily and she laughed as well.

Trying to compose himself the Caesar took the dish away from his wife and was going to have her sent away when he smelled the deliciousness coming from the dish Lasa had made.  He brought it to his nose and took in the delightful smell.  The entourage was about to laugh again when one look from the Caesar brought silence to the crowd.  (They did not want to lose their heads in place of Giuseppe.)

The Caesar scooped out a handful and brought it to his mouth.  His mouth began to sing of the delicious flavors that Lasa had prepared.  He became so ravenous that he looked like a wild dog who had made a killing after sampling the amazing dish.  His entourage remained silent and transfixed.

Then the Caesar spoke.  He didn’t speak in the commanding tone suggesting an execution about to take place.  He spoke in adoration, for the amazing meal he had sampled.  And so he stated plainly, “Hail Lasagna.  And Hail your wife for this delicious dish, Giuseppe.”  (He had become more informal as he appreciated you more.)

Hence, the amazing pasta dish Lasagna was born.  Of course, there have been other disputes about where pasta came from.  Whether this is from the deepest parts of Asia, or from the darkest parts of the Middle East, or even if Marco Polo discovered himself in his tours of the Indian nation, we shall never know.  But the amazing dish that we now know of as pasta, made specifically from semolina, came from the little man with overactive sweat glands and his amazing wife Lara, the true originator of the feast.  And if you don’t believe us . . . too bad!  We like our tale better than whatever anyone else makes up.


Five Best Pasta Places In Southern California

So what did you think of the history of pasta?  Do you think it was someone like Giuseppe, or do you think it was a mystical creation sent from heaven?  Or maybe you Atkins diet people think it came from hell?  Who knows?  But as with every food Holiday, the Guide likes to bring you a best of list.  Whether it be our favorite recipe for that dish, or we find local food joints that make it better than anyone else, we love to bring something to you so that you can celebrate better.

There are a million amazing pasta dishes out there.  And to be honest, we had a hard time picking between them.  So we decided not to and instead picked between all of the amazing places out here that serve pasta better than anyone else.  So this month the Guide proudly presents the five best Southern California pasta place.

5) Felix – Los Angeles

Evan Funke came back to Los Angeles to take the Italian food loving world by storm.  Breaking his pasta dishes down into various regions of Italy, Evan lovingly crafts each noodle by hand.  You will delight in California freshest food with an Italian bent.   Felix means happy or lucky in Italian and you certainly are when you walk through the door.  While I do love their noodles and various seasonal specialties, I do think that they would be even better if they expanded their menu to include more pasta options.  But whatever they do, they do it well and I highly recommend anything they make.

4) Pasta Sisters – Los Angeles and Culver City

Built as a family business from the family dishes she made with her sisters, brother, and Grandmother when she was a child in northern Italy.  Done with all of her grandmother’s recipes these times were indelible memories.  Paola would then take these recipes from her grandmother’s journal and bring them to the States.  She then started a business with her kids.  Made with organic and the freshest ingredients you get everything you want and more.  At Pasta Sisters, you can choose the way you decide to go with all of your pasta.  From choosing the individual pasta to picking your sauces and toppings it’s a choose your own adventure with one of the best foods on the planet.  If you like variety, you can’t go wrong.

3) Cucina Urbana– San Diego

Executive Chef Joe Magnanelli and Executive Sous Chef Mark Schmitt bring Italy to San Diego with food prepared with local produce. They have developed an ambitious in-house cheese, charcuterie and sausage program, handcrafted works, and a selection of bread and pasta made in-house.  With some of the most unique pasta dishes you will ever find, you can enjoy pasta accompanied by lamb, lobster, pork, and many other flavors as well as amazing sauces.  If you are in San Diego, you need to check out this Cucina.  And if you love your wine, you get quite a selection there to boot.

2) Fratellino’s – Brea

If my boss were to select the best Italian place ever she would definitely list Fratellino’s outside of Italy.  My first experience was at a work event. And between the amazing Chicken Marsala with pasta that melted in your mouth, I cannot say enough about them.  But going into the restaurant just adds to the ambiance. With lattice decorations and a beautiful interior decor, Cesar Lomeli wins with his classic Italian cuisine.  And if you are into Lasagna, they have four different varieties.  Definitely, a must go to Italian place in North Orange County.

1).  Angelo’s and Vinci’s – Fullerton

If you have read some of my other pieces, you know that I absolutely adore this place and think of it as a go-to place throughout all of Southern California.  You can check out my review of the place here.  But aside from the amazing decor and beautiful architecture, they have amazing food as well.  And great pasta as well.  Built over 45 years ago, they made it in the standard L-Shaped marketplace of the day.  Every place in the build contains rich meaning and history.  Eventually, the building would be squared, but the great history and food would continue on.  With tons of pasta, sauces, and protein you will never run out of things to try at this place.  If you haven’t checked it out and you are in Southern California, you definitely should.


Continue The Conversation

So what did you think of the history of pasta?  And have you tried any of the places on the best list?  Which ones did you like and what were your favorite dishes they had there?  What is your favorite type of pasta?  Would lasagna be high on your list, or would you prefer something as simple as spaghetti and meatballs?  As always, I love hearing from you.

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If you liked this post, please check out some of my other food holiday posts at the guide.  And definitely, make sure you follow me here.  You will get access to the Dad Rules, 10 rules that every dad should follow.  And you will get newsletters for the guide with the up to date happenings we have here.  Thank you for stopping by once again.

Until next time, this is me signing off.

David Elliott, Single Dad’s Guide to Life