Page 8-The Michigan Daily-Weekend etc.-January 23, 1992
wo candles cast a dim glow over
the warm garlic bread and linen
napkins on the table. Jazz music
emanates from unseen sources, and
the pungent odors of basil, olive oil
and red wine surround the
apartment's living room.
She sits down and takes a sip of
her wine as he turns off the light in
the kitchen and crosses the room.
He leans over, and places the plate
before her. "I think there might be a
little too much oregano in the
sauce," he says, "but the fettucine
is perfect." She looks up and
I am convinced that pasta is one
- of the sexiest foods in the world.
There are countless varieties, all
with different shapes and ingredi-
ents. It's a starting point for thou-
sands of different meals, hot and
cold, elaborate and simple. And -
more importantly - it's relatively
cheap and incredibly easy to prepare.
One of the reasons I love to make
pasta is something all college stu-
dents new to the kitchen can appre-
ciate: it's very hard to burn it. I
could leave some spaghetti in a pot
of boiling water on my stove for an
hour and all I would have were
some very limp noodles.
And it is quickly apparent to any
neo-chef when the zitis need a few
more minutes: one only has to
sample a noodle, and if it crunches,
unless you like it al dente
('crunchy' in Italian), leave it alone.
What could be easier?
In classic pasta dishes, the noo-
dles play only a supporting role,
however. It is the sauce that can
make or break the meal. Even the
most exotic noodle product can be
ruined by a thin, bland ketchup-like
coating, or even worse - a sauce
that tastes like it came out of a jar.
I'll admit it: I'm somewhat of a
snob in the kitchen. I don't like to
use the microwave, and I turned up
my nose at my roommate's Snack-
maker. I also can't stand spaghetti
sauce that you buy in the grocery
store. It's too sweet, and I know
that it's way too expensive.
Homemade sauce is far superior
for a number of reasons: it scores
high on all four of the college food
groups (fast, easy, cheap and good)
and can even be fun to make. After a
few tries, anybody can create a con-
coction that's good enough to be
given a cool-sounding Italian name,
like "fettucine lamborghini" or
Let's briefly review the differ-
ent members of the pasta family.
There's spaghetti - everybody
knows what that looks like. There's
mostaccioli - those are the short
hollow tubes that are sometimes
called "ziti." (Don't ask; it's a New
York thing.) There's fettucine and
linguine, which are thin, flat noo-
dles that gangsters always eat.
There's tortellini and ravioli -
little pasta pockets filled with
meat, cheese or vegetables. There's
rotini, my personal favorite, with
short curly noodles. And there's the
wide, flat noodles that go in lasagna
- I don't know what they're called.
In classic pasta
dishes, the noodles
play only a supporting
role, however. It is
the sauce that can
make or break the
zucchini, spinach and broccoli are all
great in pasta sauce. Add at your dis-
cretion, but be sure that all the veg-
etables are sliced into bite-sized
pieces before you begin, and that you
give the crunchier ones like zucchini
and broccoli sufficient time to cook.
If you browned meat for the sauce,
add it at this point.
Here is where many first time
sauce makers lose their cool, and
consequently screw up a great meal.
The first few times I tried making
pasta sauce, I opened my cupboards
and threw in a dash or two of every
spice I had. This technique can some-
times have satisfactory - even spec-
tacular - results, but more fre-
quently the dozens of flavors end up
cancelling each other out, and, more
importantly, you will never be able
to duplicate one of these culinary
Oregano, basil, salt and pepper
are the only seasonings you really
need for a good sauce. Start by
adding a tablespoon of each herb, and
a healthy sprinking of salt and pep-
per. Let the sauce simmer for ten
minutes or so, and then taste. If it
doesn't measure up to your discrimi-
nating palate, then add a little more
of each seasoning, until it does.
An even easier way to solve the
seasoning dilemma is to buy a jar of
"Italian seasoning" at the grocery
store. These combinations have ev-
erything you need for a good sauce,
and you won't be left wondering if
you should add another dash of
Once the sauce is simmering, it's
time to start the pasta. This is the
easy part. Heat a pot of water on the
stove until it boils, and throw in the
noodles of your choice.
Do remember to stir the noodles
as you add them to the boiling wa-
ter, and every few minutes as the
water returns to a boil. This will
ensure that they cook rapidly and
don't stick together.
The longer the sauce simmers,
the better it will taste, but ten or 20
minutes is fine. Once you think the
pasta is done, inspect the sauce. The
amount of time it has simmered and
the ingredients you have added will
greatly influence the sauce's thick-
ness. If it is still soupy, add two ta-
blespoons of tomato paste, and stir
vigorously. Keep adding tomato
paste and stirring until the sauce has
reached the desired consistency.
Drain the noodles, pour the wine,
light the candles and you're ready to
go. Good luck, and Buon appetito!
He walks her home in the icy
moonlight. As they walk up the path
to her front porch, she breaks the si-
"I had a great time tonight, " she
He pauses at the door, unsure of
himself. "Me too. I'd like to see you
again. I've got a great recipe for as-
paragus stir-fry with ziti and lemon
juice, and... "
She interrupted him with a long
kiss. "I'll make dinner next time,"
she said, as she gently closes the
door behind her.
This is the first installment in a
continuing series on the wonderful
world of pasta. Stay tuned to Food
for Thought in the coming weeks
for ideas on non-traditional hot and
cold pasta dishes, and for the contu-
ining saga of the couple in the story
The Peoples' Food Co-op on
Packard has a great selection of ex-
otic pastas that are guaranteed to
impress that member of the oppo-
site sex that you stare at in your
classes. It's always fun to try a new
noodle, if you want to experiment
or are trying out a new sauce.
There are two basic types of
pasta sauces: red and white. Red
sauces start with tomatoes, and
white sauces usually have a cream
base, with some type of seafood.
Since red sauces are much easier to
make, and one cannot buy good scal-
lops in the midwest without spend-
ing all of next month's rent, I
would suggest sticking with a
Tomato products come in three
different forms: stewed tomatoes,
tomato sauce and tomato paste. All
three are important; each has a dif-
ferent consistency, and a combina-
tion of the three will help you cre-
ate your own personalized sauce.
Only four pieces of kitchen
equipment are needed for a pasta
dinner: two large pots - one for
the sauce and one to boil water - a
skillet for browning meat and/or
sautding vegetables, and a collander
for draining the noodles.
Before you begin, make sure your
dinner guests don't have any per-
sonal hangups over certain ingredi-
ents. If the woman in the story
above can't stand the taste of mush-
rooms, then the interested man is
definitely in trouble.
Above all, be creative: almost
any meat or vegetable will taste
great in pasta sauce. For those few
remaining carnivores out there,
brown ground beef or ground turkey
in a skillet, and proceed from there.
Make sure you drain the fat first.
Saut6 lots of onion and garlic in
olive oil (or vegetable oil - it's
cheaper) until the onions are
translucent (that means you can see
through them). Add a large can of
stewed tomatoes, dicing each
tomato into small chunks with a
serrated knife. Next add a can (or
two, if you're feeding several peo-
ple) of tomato sauce. This will bulk
up the sauce, so if you're only cook-
ing for two, you can omit this
Next, the veggies. Mushrooms,
If one is in the mood to get re-
ally fancy-schmancy and spend some
money, try one of the many designer
pasta products. Rotini and other
noodles come in packages with red
(tomato) and green (spinach) noo-
dles, and you can get pasta of any
shape made out of whole wheat
flour, organic flour, even pasta made
from free-range wheat plants.
Continued from page 4
After all, his fans have long ad-
mired him for his genuine nature,
which carries over exceptionally
well to his live shows. A smorgas-
bord of spontaneous storytelling,
acoustic versions of songs that
"should not be played on the
banjo," and audience interaction,
have made him a very popular live
Taylor's live performance will
be showcased in this weekend's Ann
Arbor Folk 'Festival at Hill Audi-
torium. He describes his involve-
ment in the event with an obvious
amount of enthusiasm.
"I'm a player and a singer," he
says. "I've worked at the Ark and
they asked me to come and do the
festival. I said I'd love to and one
thing led to another ... I always
made music and liked (doing it). I
got out of high school and started
playing music and people started
giving me money. I would play and
they would pay and so here I am
twenty-four years later!"
LIVINGSTON TAYLOR will be ap-
pearing at the Folk Festival Satur-
Continued from page 5
folk festival this Saturday.
Odetta's tenure in the perform-
ing business seems an appropriate
match with her form of musical ex-
pression. The singer sees her music
as a continuing ethic, something that
originated long before the politi-
cally active set of the '60s epito-
mized folk music. "The torch had
been passed to them," she says, "and
the media put a spotlight on what
was going on in the sixties."
"I think (folk) probably started
in primitive times when one person
or a few persons decide they were
going to control someone else ...
maybe just after the dinosaurs,"
Odetta speculates with a laugh.
Folk music's tones may seem
recognizable to most - the acoustic
guitar, the softly defined rhythms
- but Odetta agrees that the un-
likely category of rap could also be
likened to her discipline. "A con-
tinuation. Absolutely, a continua-
tion," she emphatically describes.
"Some of the rap I've heard, as in
folk music, is addressing the needs
of us as human beings, and they are
continuing it, especially speaking in
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terms of social situations ... espe-
cially in terms of us as a Black
community in this country."
While it may be the weight that
drags folk away from the charts, po-
litical commentary is the stuff of
folk, rather than the other way
around. "The area of folk music has
been involved with protestation, de-
termining what you're going to do
with it," Odetta observes.
"The music is not the stuff that
the movement was made out of. The
music was there to help the spirit
Odetta details her concerns for
people of the labor movement and
unions who are fighting for food
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and work. These human elements -I
the words that strive to make the
difference - pervade her lyrics.
Above all, however, it seems
that the music and the performance
of Odetta's chosen profession is
what keeps her going.
"The stage is where I live. The
stage is where I'm comfortable. The
stage is where I can address what it
is that I have been learning and what
it is that I have learned," she states.
"I've decided that I'm going to
live to be about ninety-seven, and ...
even if I only have three notes, I'll
be croaking out those three notes. A
beautiful place to die ... would be
on the stage," Odetta . laughs.
"Dramatic for sure, but..."
A multi-talented woman,
Odetta, who made her start in opera,
has also acted in Canadian produc-
tions of The Crucible and The Ef-
fects of Gamma Rays on Man-in-
"Oh, I love (acting). I am a ham,
that's for sure ... You are working
with other people and that kind of
give and take is absolutely fantastic,
and I love it," Odetta says.
Indeed, performing seems to
raise Odetta to ethereal heights.
"I'm highly spiritual. I'm suspect
of religion but I'm highly spiritual
and I do my regimen before I go into
a concert and I ask that I might be a
funnel for something beyond me to
come through ... I am the spirit-
keeper, let's say it that way."
"I can't change anybody's mind. I
hope .., that there is something in
them that is touched that ... will
start them moving in directions that '
they weren't before ... to encourage
us as beings to bond together in or-
der to get something done."
Odetta says she is enthusiastic
about hearing and learning from
other artists at the folk festival, and
has a special feeling for the multi-
generational pull in her audiences.
"I've been running into those
who were on university or college
campuses when I was first starting,
and that's some thirty or thirty-five
years ago, and they're bringing their
grandchildren ... so, the audience
will go from eighty-something to
the ones who were baking in their
mamas' bellies at the time."
After decades of performing,
Odetta sees her own musical sense
expanding. "I think, as one gets into
oneself and has been able to give of
oneself, whatever we're doing, the
temperature is warmer, friendlier,
and that's what I see has happened
(in my music).
"One of the most disappointing
days in my life was when I realized
I can't change anybody," ..Odetta
continues, "all I can do is give what
I've got and then hope for the best."
ODETTA will appear at the Folk
Festival Saturday night.
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