Thursday, March 13, 2014

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Every child growing up in Australia in the 90's has read Looking For Alibrandi. In this book, the main character, Josie, is from a big Italian family, and they describe an event she entitles, 'National Wog Day.' This year I got to experience my first National Wog Day, a day filled with tomatoes, more tomatoes, even more tomatoes, and then a year's supply of passata!

I was told the day started by 10am at the latest, so in true Indian style, I arrived at 10:05 to find boxes full of bottles being washed and dried.


As the bottles were finished off, boxes and boxes of Roma tomatoes started to be brought into the kitchen, These were washed, and halved, and pretty soon very large bowls were filled with chopped tomatoes.


These tomatoes were sent outside, to where the magic machine was... Let me tell you about the magic machine. Apparently these machines are a fixture in most Italian homes, but I had never seen one! It was a big electric tomato pulping machine, where you put the tomatoes in the feeder bowl at the top, and then out the front came out the tomato pulp and out the side were the skins! I told you it was magic!



The skins were put through a second time to ensure all the tomato goodness was extracted, and then put in a bucket for the animals to eat. Nothing is wasted!


There was a continuous stream of chopped tomatoes being sent outside to be pulped, and the pulp being sent back inside to be bottled. Once the pulp was funnelled into the bottles, a teaspoon of salt and a sprig was basil was put on top and then the bottles were capped.


The bottles were then put in a 44 gallon drum, covered with water, and left to boil for at least two hours to seal and preserve.

And then came my favourite part. Whilst that was boiling away, the decision on what to have for dinner was made. It only made sense to use the freshly pulped passata, and it wouldn't be proper Italian food if the pasta wasn't made from scratch!

The chef decided that tagliatelle puttanesca would be dish of choice, without anchovies to cater for the difficult vegetarian! A short lesson in the Italian language revealed that puttanesca comes from the Italian word puttana, meaning prostitute and we struggled to work out the relationship between a pasta sauce and a prostitute!

I watched closely as the pasta was being made - a lengthy kneading process taken care of by the Thermomix, and then the dough was put through the pasta machine, rolled out till it was thin enough, hung on the back of chair to dry, and then cut into strips.


And then the sauce. Blanched tomatoes with their skins peeled, the pasatta, olives, basil and parsley and just a hint of chilli created a delicious sauce. Together the sauce, and the freshly made pasta created an amazing dish. Let's just say a pasta maker is high on my list of essential items now.


It was a fabulous end to a great day. A big thankyou to the Russos for letting me experience my first National Wog Day :-)


5 comments:

  1. This is awesome! Most of my Italian friends had a kitchen in the garage (lots of Greeks, like my family, did too).

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    Replies
    1. I'm Indian, and some Indians do too, but I've never seen anything being mass processed like this!

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  2. Hi Monica,

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  3. Homemade passata and pasta? That's very cool.

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