Life is full of pleasant surprises, and recently one such pleasant surprise rang my doorbell here in Turin: it was my brother with his consort for a super quick visit to my new home town, which they hadn’t seen yet.
We did as much as we possibly could in the brief time they were here, but seeing that we only had a couple of days at our disposal, the easiest way to introduce them properly to the region I now call my home, was by getting them to eat their own weight in local delicacies. Why spend four hours in a museum if you can go out and get a literal taste of the local culture?
It was on one of these occasions, the three of us stuffing our faces, that I realised something strange. My brother, when he eats long pasta like spaghetti (or, in this particular case, tajarin), he rolls his pasta around the fork, turning the fork in an anticlockwise direction. This seemed odd to me, because I’d always rolled them around my fork turning it in a clockwise direction, and I’d never even considered that there might be another possibility. We each tried both different directions, and good God, the anticlockwise method wasn’t even too bad! I’m too used to clockwise by now to change my ways, but it was still an interesting discovery.
Of course I was curious to find out if more people used a different method, so I asked some of my Italians friends. Turns out most people turn clockwise, and my brother is actually a freak. That’s OK, I love him very much nonetheless. The following spaghetti is based on one of the things we ate together during their visit here. Credit goes to Cianci, my favourite piola here in Turin. They served tajarin, a type of Piemontese pasta, with pumpkin and Swiss chard (a leafy vegetable from the same family as beetroot) and it was not a combination I ever would have thought of myself. I decided to try it at home, and gave it a slightly Northern spin. When you try these spaghetti (or trenette, or tajarin, or any of the long ones), pay attention to which direction you turn your fork in, and then report back to me. Who knows what results we’ll find!
And you know what? This thing is so dead easy to make! All you need is this:
- enough pasta for two people
- about 250 gr of pumpkin
- about 5 big leaves of Swiss chard, if you can get any
- one clove of garlic
- some butter
OK so peel your pumpkin and chop it up finely. Then chop up your swiss chard as well. Crush your garlic, but do it with the heel of your hand so that it stays more or less in one piece, but with a big crack down the middle. Chuck all of it in a frying pan with some butter, and gently fry them. Add some of the pasta boiling water if it gets dry. Leave it to soften up for about 15 minutes.
Boil your pasta, add it to the vegetables, and serve up with some olive oil and grated parmesan.