OK, so I finally made it to Italy, each flight delayed less than an hour, but with a heart full of gratitude that I not only missed all the craziness earlier in the week, but that I’m also among close friends for the holidays. 🙂
Carla and I went on a treasure hunt for the most simple of pasta shapes: conchiglie (shells). In pasta aisles that are as long as the US junk food aisles, there are dozens of pasta shapes and brands, but in none of five grocery stores did we find shells! Carla’s stuffed shells recipe will now become Carla’s stuffed paccheri, which are like big rigatoni.
Have stuffed shells become so popular here that everyone decided to make them on Christmas Eve? or is it just the opposite and no one wants to take the time to make them anymore? In either case, it was interesting to examine the pasta aisles for new shapes and types.
First, pasta is cheap here. Pasta gragnano, one of the best, was on sale for about $.77 a half kilo! Second, it seems the products are always evolving. Not only is there more pasta integrale, there are also small flavored pastas for children now. Mini penne rigate and farfalle, colored orange with carrots or green with zucchini. We bought some for Luigino; I’m curious to learn if they have any flavor.
I love visiting grocery stores when I travel. Observing how food is packaged and sold in various countries is so interesting! Fruits and vegetables here are not only priced much less than they are in Philly, but they are also labeled by place of origin. You know if you’re getting clementines from Sicily or peppers from Holland. With more of the fruits and vegetables in the US originating overseas, I sure wish our own supermarkets would start labeling as well.
Postscript: Carla came back on the 24th with a pack of ‘generic’ conchiglioni giganti from Coop, a cooperative supermarket worthy of another blog entry later in the week. Seems only the name-brand shells are hard to find. 😉