x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Fresh is best: Pasta maker is worth the effort - sometimes

The gadget There's no doubt that fresh pasta is the best pasta. So if you've got the time and the energy, this machine is indispensable.

Want pasta. Buy pasta. Boil pasta. Eat pasta. That was how life was in the old days. The days before I discovered that you don't need to be a Neapolitan grandmother to make your own pasta. It was almost unthinkable that there was any other way of putting spaghetti on my plate than shuffling down to the shops, buying a packet of pre-made dried pasta and unloading it into a saucepan of simmering salted water. But then I found the Imperia pasta maker, and my whole outlook changed. A bit.

I'll be honest. Since I discovered the Imperia pasta maker, I have continued to make the regular guilty pilgrimage to the supermarket to buy my lazy spaghetti. But now I feel just a little bit worthless and pathetic for having done so. I justify this heinous activity merely on the grounds of convenience. Making your own is hard work and time consuming. But now that I know how satisfying it is to knead the dough, roll it through the machine, and slice it into fresh strands of sumptuous spaghetti or toothsome tagliatelle, packet pasta will never be the same.

There's no doubt that fresh pasta is the best pasta. So if you've got the time and the energy, this machine is indispensable. It's a compact, shiny, chrome device that's satisfyingly sturdy and surprisingly heavy. Once you clear a space on your kitchen surface and screw the special clamp to fix the machine in place, the dough is incredibly simple to make - flour, eggs and a pinch of salt should be combined, pounded and pummeled into a smooth, firm consistency.

Next, break it up into manageable pieces and pass it through the rollers, over and again, folding it in two, reducing the distance between the rollers with subsequent feeds. Once the dough is thin and even, it must be left to rest and firm up slightly while you attach the pasta cutter. Then it's just a matter of whooshing it through the cutter (which can be set to spaghetti or tagliatelle thickness) and laying it out on a clean surface to dry out before cooking. Until you acquire the knack, it can be messy, fiddly and just a little bit arduous. But Michelangelo didn't paint the Sistine Chapel in an afternoon in between cups of tea and text messages to his pals, so think yourself lucky.

The resulting pasta is stupendous and perfect if you want to treat yourself or impress someone special. You'll just have to face up to a couple of home truths: 1) when the craving for pasta strikes, you probably won't be bothered to make your own every time; and 2) you will continue to buy packet pasta, with no small degree of self-loathing. Maybe I should have confined my enjoyment of real, fresh pasta to my local Italian restaurant and remained in blissful ignorance. Then my packet-pasta dependence wouldn't be half as guilt-laden. But the facts remain. I can make my own pasta and I have made my own pasta. And with the Imperia pasta maker, you will too.

Imperia pasta maker costs Dh235 and is available at Tavola, Marina Mall Abu Dhabi, Mall of The Emirates Dubai, 04 340 2933