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Explore authentic Italian food | McLean Virginia

Sep 6, 2012

Play on Pasta


When we think of pasta, we may think of a steaming plate of spaghetti tickling our senses with its aromatic toppings of meatballs and fresh herbs. Nothing beats classic Italian pairings such as tomato, basil, and Parmesan cheese.

This type of traditional cooking is the type of comfort food that simply warms up the soul. However, more and more chefs are cranking out contemporary versions of pasta dishes. Flavors are tweaked and twisted. Creative techniques and futuristic tools are incorporated. Plating and presentation are art-like, suited for a museum exhibit. Nowadays, food is not just to satiate our hunger. It’s all about discovery: exploring uncharted innovations in gastronomy.

An example of a play on food is deconstruction. This is the process of morphing key ingredients of a dish to a new form and then combining them in harmony. For instance, a lasagna dish may be transformed into a plate with sliced tomatoes, olive-oil-and-basil infused foam, and regular lasagna noodles. Take note that not every ingredient needs to be changed. It’s because the essence of the original dish should still be evident after it’s been deconstructed. Critics of this method argue that it’s not the same dish. It may have the same taste, but the elements such as textures aren’t reminiscent of the original. On the contrary, fans of deconstruction drool over its novelty.

Another play on pasta can also be as simple as changing its temperature. It’s usually serve warm or even hot, correct? But some restaurants have served it cold, as if it just came out of the refrigerator. The plate looks delicious. The flavors are still succulent. It’s just cold. This pushes diners to think of pasta in a different way. However, most tasters can’t get accustomed to this change, so it’s not as welcomed as deconstruction.

There are plenty more ways chefs toy around with food. Some do it for the sake of art, some for inventing some new. It serves to tug your taste buds into a place where it has never been before. In our opinion, food is an expression, free to be changed according to who’s cooking. However, after a long day’s work, a basic and simple meal is more than enough.