Whoo hoo! I am so excited that I have made it through the alphabet one more time. I am sure my fellow blogger Julia Fox is going to miss seeing me post each week, but I am not sure I am ready to do it a third time, well at least not yet. Blogging my way through the alphabet food wise has been fun and I have learned about some interesting dishes and foods along the way. Today, I am going to end with one of my favorite foods Ziti. Baked ziti, for me, is so comforting. It is not because it is something I grew up with fond childhood memories of, as my mom was not a good pasta cooker. Well, her pasta was fine, it was the sauce that was memorable and not in a good way.
Ziti like elbow macaroni and any pasta with a whole in the middle catches my attention because it provides a tunnel for all the sauce to travel in and through. When I get a tray of baked ziti with the sauce, sausage, and cheeses melted throughout, it just makes my mouth water. However, this week I have been practicing a way of cooking pasta, which allows me to amplify the flavor that gets soaked into whatever pasta I am making. It all began when I heard about cooking your pasta in the pan with your sauce ingredients to create a one-pot wonder. I have mastered it with linguine this week and know it needs 4 ½ cups of water to cook one pound of pasta. Ziti requires 3 cups of water. It is almost magical what happens as the pasta soaks in the flavors of the sausage, the garlic, red pepper flakes, kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, and the crushed tomatoes. Even your store brand dry pasta becomes something spectacular.
So maybe this is not so much about ziti in the traditional sense, but it is the tunnel, through which my reflections will travel. In some sense, daily life is the various ingredients, which travel through us, and we like the Ziti, absorb it and take on its flavors. We cook in the water of life, so we have to be mindful of what we put in the water. We must ensure that we adequately salt and pepper the waters of our life. Salt has this way of making whatever it connects with taste more like itself. Pepper, “offers bitter notes as well as pungency (literally an irritation of the tongue), both of which serve to keep lush textures and flavors from seeming too cloying. Pepper is, in other words, a kind of punctuation, and I think a second seasoning ought to fill that grammatical role.” Pepper then is that ingredient in our life, which keeps us in balance and from becoming too egotistical. It keeps us humble.
As we, like our Ziti, cook in the waters of our life, we take on all the other flavors which we choose to put in our pot. We must be mindful of the kind of sauce we want to be coated in and absorbing. Do we want to be coated in something acidic like tomatoes? If so, then we may need to add something sweet to our water as well to balance out the acidity so it is not overwhelming. Do we want us, the ziti, to shine through and not hide, then we might consider adding other ingredients to our life, which will help, make us more visible. If we find something is not working, we have the power to change up some or all of the ingredients in our life. As don Miguel Ruiz would say in the Four Agreements, we have the power to change the agreements in our life, so if an “ingredient/agreement” is no longer pleasing to your “palette/life” remove it and replace it with something that does.
You are the chef of your life. You control your “kitchen.” Create the “dish” that you want to eat and share with the world.