Chef Boyardee almost ruined me forever from liking ravioli. In fact, it’s still not my favorite. It’s strange because my brain is able to move past Spaghettio’s when I eat spaghetti, but when it comes to ravioli, my palate automatically braces for that ketchupy based sauce, and those slimy, mushy noodles with that processed meat clump that lurks inside. It’s also stupid because all the traditional Italian food are noodles and sauce with some sort of cheese under, over or in it, anyway. It’s all the same, so why should ravioli bug me so much? There’s something to the secret contents harbored inside them that bugs me, I think. Like those varieties of gum that spurt when you chomp down on them. I just want things that go into my mouth to be completely up front with no surprises (yes, I’m aware that’s what she said).
Ravioli is basically the same thing as tortellini, except it doesn’t stay on your fork as easily, and doesn’t contain the sauce within the bite as well. If you ever wondered, or just suddenly wondered for the first time, why Italian food has so many varieties of noodle, all with only a slightly different shape than the next, yet all composed of the exact same ingredients, it’s because they all developed from different regions of the country.
Pasta itself is older than history is willing to trace. China was using many forms of noodles for centuries before it popped up in Sicily somewhere in the first Anno Domini decade, and lord knows we can’t keep trying to trace Chinese history. There’s no arguing, though, that the idea sank deeply into Italy’s noodle and they ran with it. Since Sicily was the hot bed of trade, it makes sense that that’s how the word got out so widely, and with such variety. Let’s face it, the stuff is easy to make, and super cheap. Just ask a college student. Plus, you didn’t have a lot of copying down of recipes in 10 A.D., so it would stand to reason that dad would come home from his weekend trade show in the big city, and say, “Hey ma, I had this thing called a noodle in Sicily. It was weird shaped and tasted like bread. Make it for dinner tomorrow and slop some crushed tomatoes on it!”
These ravioli I did have at Bella Bella today were actually pretty great. It turns out that ravioli is typically stuffed with meat and/or veggies, not explosive cheese, and when they’re home made it somehow doesn’t creep me out nearly as much as when Chef Boyardee slips his little piece of solidified Soylent Green into a bunch of weird little slime-sicles stuffed in a can. He thinks I don’t know what’s going on? I completely know that guy’s bag. He’s a sicky!
Ok, forget all that! Ravioli can be remarkable. There, I said it. But I won’t eat it unless it cost over $12. Also, I won’t eat garlic cheese bread unless it looks exactly like this. Yes, I’ve had that other great garlic bread that’s twisted up like a knot and is garlicy and greasy with canned parmesan all over it. This is not that. This is it, and it’s my new standard.
See you Wednesday for National French Bread Day.