Wheat In The Form Of Pasta

THE ITALIANS HAVE ACCORDED PASTA PROMINENT STATUS IN THEIR MANY REGIONAL CUISINES. ONE OF THE FIRST FOODSTUFFS TO BE MANUFACTURED COMMERCIALLY, PASTA IS UNIVERSALLY POPULAR.

No one knows for sure when pasta entered the cuisines of the world or who invented it. But the Italians can certainly be credited with developing its manifold varieties and spreading them around the world. Every form of dough that is rolled thin and cooked on a hot metal surface can be regarded as a forerunner of pasta.

According to researchers on the subject, it is highly probable that pasta emerged around the same time in all parts of the world where flat bread was made. Perceiving as well-nigh miraculous the benefits of yeast for adding volume to bread made with flour in times when it was almost impossible to find economical foodstuffs that also kept well, mankind developed some extraordinary religious rituals revolving around yeast.

In her ‘Dictionary of Ottoman Cuisine’, Priscilla Mary Işın reports that even the poor bought the Italian pasta imported by the Ottoman government in the 19th century. And Ahmet Paşa’s pasta factory inside the Selimiye Barracks was set up in the 1830’s to meet the growing need for this staple. So popular was pasta with the common people that the author of the first printed cookbook in the Ottoman state, Mehmet Kamil Bey, in 1844 modified the stock expression ‘temcit pilaff’  to ‘temcit pasta’, referring to a dish served over and over again or, metaphorically, any subject that keeps coming up. 

In our own Turkish cuisine, pasta appears as ‘erişte’ (or noodles cut into thin strips), which derives from the Arabic ‘rishta’. Erişte is still used in Turkey today in a range of dishes from soup to rice pilaff. There is even evidence in the records that erişte was used in halva in the past. Apart from erişte, the popular Turkish ‘mantı’ (a kind of ravioli) is another product of our own authentic pasta culture.

SQUID INK PASTA WITH SEAFOOD
Ingredients:
100 g squid ink pasta
4 clams
30 g shelled prawns
30 g calamari
1 shallot
1 tomato, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
10 g Parmesan cheese
2-3 fresh basil leaves
1 clove of garlic
salt and pepper

Preparation:
Saute the finely chopped shallot, garlic, sand mussels, prawns and chopped calamari in the olive oil. Add the chopped tomato and basil leaves and saute 1-2 minute longer. Add half a cup of fish stock and cook for 3 minutes. Meanwhile cook the squid ink pasta in boiling water for 3 minutes, add to the seafood sauce with the Parmesan and salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

PASTA WITH ‘KEŞ’ (COUNTRY CURD CHEESE)
Ingredients:
100 g pasta
50 g country curd cheese
20 g butter
salt and pepper
1 cup meat stock

Preparation:
Heat the oil slightly, add the pasta and stir until well coated. Then add the meat stock, cover tightly and cook over low heat. Remove the pasta to a serving platter and top with the curd cheese browned in butter.