After two earthquakes struck Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region this May, killing 17 and injuring 350 more, organizers at the Italian Cultural Institute sought to demonstrate their support in the best way they knew how: by making some pasta.
Along with 50 other mostly Italian attendees, Shirley Lum sat in the Italian Cultural Institute on Thursday in anticipation of “An Afternoon of Sfoglia, Tagliatelle, and Tortellini,” a pasta-making lesson from “Miss Tagliatella” herself, Maria Corzani. A native of the Emilia-Romagna region, Corzani defeated several other sfoglinas (pasta makers) to win the provincial tortellini title earlier this year. But in Toronto, not all of the Italian-Canadians seemed to agree with her expert opinion.
“So this is perfect dough,” said Shirley Lum, scrutinizing a sphere of pasta between her fingers. Murmurs of “mamma mia” could be heard as assisting chef—and Corzani’s translator—Gabriele Paganelli explained Corzani’s technique: letting the dough rest for between one hour and one day before being cut, rolling it at room temperature, and putting it together with “doppio zero” grade flour. The attendees exchanged incredulous glances when Paganelli suggested dropping whole, uncut vegetables into the pasta broth while it simmered. All the while, Corzani stood silently smiling before the increasingly loud crowd, pinching her tortellini into proper form, apparently unaware of the simmering dissent.
“I guess it depends on which region you’re from,” said Lum, owner of Toronto foodie walk organization A Taste of the World, who was auditing the pasta- themed event to glean some tips for dumpling making.
Seeming to notice the tension, the institute’s director, Adriana Frisenna, spoke up. “It’s not just cooking—it’s the pleasure of doing things together, laughing, and chatting and…quarreling,” she said, half-laughing. “Usually you can’t quarrel so much while you’re eating.”