The new year is the perfect time to finally take up ceramics, learn Mandarin, start a book club, start rock-climbing, or plant a garden. In 2018, the Cut has practical advice on trying something new. Make bowls, not just resolutions.
On March 15, 2017, I bought the nicest manual pasta machine available on Amazon. It’s difficult to now recall my exact thought process leading up to the purchase, so I’ll make some assumptions. With Trump having been in office for just 54 excruciating days, I assume I was already wondering how in the entire fake-news-senile-tweets-brink-of-nuclear-war hell I was going to make it through the year. It also may be possible that I came across an article or convincing YouTube video detailing how making fresh pasta is not quite as daunting as it may seem. And, with much less confidence, I assume it might have had something to do with Under the Tuscan Sun because it is an incredible film that is often on my mind.
Though I may never definitively be able to say how I landed on my pasta hobby, I’m so thankful I did. For starters, it involved buying a bunch of stuff and I love buying stuff — a pasta machine, different attachments, a special kind of flour, a pasta drying rack … So many of my purchases toe the line between “frivolous” and “feasibly useful if used properly,” and, truly, does there exist a better description for a pasta drying rack?
Once the initial nervousness of my first few attempts abated, I learned that pasta making is surprisingly soothing. It requires just enough focus to keep you occupied, but not so much that you feel burdened. Most of the time I have episodes of The Office or Chef’s Table playing while I delicately craft my bigoli noodles or my butternut squash and ricotta ravioli. There’s also a deep sense of satisfaction I’ve taken in the fact that I am actually out here making something out of nothing. I am not what anyone sensible person would call “crafty” — I often worry about my handwriting throwing off the aesthetic balance of a group birthday card. Plus, I’m a millennial, so working with my hands has not been a regular occurrence throughout my life. But with pasta, I roll and I knead and I manipulate that dough into strings of eggy goodness and toss them in butter and tomatoes and butter and pesto and butter and cheese and butter. I become a craftsman. I am the Geppetto of pasta. (Or perhaps just any Italian person who makes pasta.)
Of course, the most obvious joy of my pasta-making hobby is that at the end, you get to eat delicious pasta. Perhaps the less obvious upside is it’s an activity that pairs perfectly with wine consumption. I recognize many people have hobbies that don’t involve alcohol, and that’s certainly a decision. A few months into my hobby, on one raucous Friday night, I drank a bunch of wine by myself and made some truly excellent pasta — a perfectly creamy, pepper cacio e pepe —and was so pleased with myself that I bought a URL. Now, I have a pasta blog and, when asked, two whole hobbies.