Ciao, Mia Amici (hello, my friends)
Today we are examining gadgets used in typical Italian households. According to Miriam Webster’s Dictionary, a gadget is “an often small mechanical or electronic device with a practical use but often thought of as a novelty.”
In my opinion, gadgets are fun. What can inventors come up with next? Do you love gadgets? I do.
My Nana worked with her hands. There were no ingenious devices to aid in her culinary creations. For pasta, pastry, any food actually she relied on a knife, a fork, and a spoon, and her imagination. She was pretty clever and “Necessity is the mother of invention”, but she did not have a lot of equipment to work with.
Here we are, a generation or two later. Our crazy schedules do not lend to being creative without a little help from clever gadgets.
My poor Nana is rolling down cemetery row this very minute. She had a gadget called a rolling pin and that is all. She was an old fashioned person who believed simplicity is best suited for cooking.
Anyway, I am a person who loves innovation especially in the form of a gadget. Let’s explore some gadgets to help us create our Sicilian cuisine.
Lavazza Compact Coffee Maker
The Lavazza compact coffee maker is a good choice. It is made in Italy and is very sturdy. All you need is a simple touch and you get the perfect coffee every time. Lavazza is a brand that Italians love. Most Italians will drink nothing but Lavazza coffee.
This particular coffee machine lets you choose the temperature, quantity per cup and if you ask nicely it memorizes the settings for you so no need to reenter them.
Moka Coffee Machine
Italians and their coffee is a relationship I am just beginning to understand. While we have our favorites here in the US, when you drink coffee in the home of an Italian, chances are the brewed coffee comes from a Moka Coffee Maker.
The Italians drink espresso, and this is just the coffee maker to serve expresso to guests. The Italian brand choice for stovetop coffee makers is Bialetti. This eight-sided coffee maker has a sturdy aluminum construction and lasts forever. It even gets better as it gets older.
To use it, pour water into the bottom part and fill the filter with ground espresso. On the stove, heat the water until it boils and the liquid espresso moves to the upper chamber of the pot. Now it is ready to be poured into an awaiting espresso cup.
Italian Double Cutter Pasta Machine
Homemade pasta is the way to go. I have fond memories of eating at Nana’s house. She made her own pasta, and it was amazing. I feel bad that she never got to teach me how to make pasta from scratch. Everything about it was perfect.
The old fashioned Sicilians still make pasta as Nana did. Much of the younger generation use a pasta machine. Princess Kim, my daughter, has one and loves it.
There are many different manufacturers, but the Marcato Atlas is the one recommended by culinary professionals. The machine is simple to use and allows you fresh pasta whenever you like. No need to buy boxed pasta again.
This reasonably priced machine makes lasagna, fettuccine, and tagliatelle (thinner than fettuccine). A dial controls the thickness of the dough. There are attachments that you can purchase separately. Best of all, it is easy to clean.
Pasta Drying Rack
After you create the pasta, you need to dry it. A pasta drying rack is what you can use.
Use it for lasagna, spaghetti, tagliatelle, linguine, and capellini.
I recommend a natural wood, for example, natural Beachwood. This particular one is collapsible for easy storage.
All kitchens require a colander for straining pasta, veggies, and other foods. I remember I loved to wear this as a hat as I toddled around mom’s kitchen. I also would use it as a drum and bang it with a spoon as if I were in a parade. Aren’t you glad I was not your child?
In the kitchen, however, it is useful to allow liquids to drain through while retaining the solids. I use it mostly for draining beans, rice, and canned tomatoes as well as the usual pasta. I have learned through experience that when purchasing a colander, be aware that the holes are big enough to drain quickly and efficiently.
I recognize this device from my childhood. My mom had one. As a matter of fact, all of the kitchens in my family were equipped with a cheese grater. In our house, we grated Romano cheese. It is sturdy and easily stored.
When your child is helping in the kitchen, this is a great task for a young person to perform. If you flip it around, the larger holes are good for grating carrots or potatoes.