TEVERINA DI CORTONA, Italy— Americans are strictly bush-leaguers when it comes to pasta, consuming about 26 pounds per capita each year. Or by my informal reckoning, at least one large plate of well-sauced and seasoned pasta six out of seven days a week. A persistent notion in American kitchens is that pasta, to be good, must be freshly made by hand, preferably by a venerable grandmother wielding a rolling pin.Yet, we all know what pasta al dente means, or think we do.And only after all that comes pasta secca, pasta in a box. Except in a few regions of the north, Italians don't bother much with pasta fresca at all. Beautifully made pasta fresca is glorious, but for everyday meals, whether in high-priced Milanese restaurants or humble Tuscan farmhouses, Italian cooks rely on the stuff in the box. That's not just because pasta secca represents a cheap, quick, easy way to throw together a delicious dish.So, join us this weekend for a fun-filled market that you don’t want to miss and enjoy a live performance by the most talented graffitist, Abdullah Bukhamseen (@bufifty), wrapped with some good mixes by @Deejay_Fox.They don't need to.'' Simplicity and ease of approach are the keys to good pasta in Italy.There are two important differences in the process: the pasta is extruded through bronze dies instead of through industrial Teflon, giving it a rough-textured surface to which sauce clings rather than slipping off, and the pasta is dried slowly at low temperatures so that it retains more of the nutty flavor and aroma of durum wheat.We are honored to be sponsored by 360MALL, Boubyan Bank, Diet Center, Posta Plus, Tapis Rouge, Go Tap as our Payment Partner, and Zahrat Al Khaleej as our exclusive media sponsor.We are pleased to invite you to The High Street 2, organized by Amirah Al Shaalan Events Co., on Friday and Saturday, 5th and 6th of February, at 360MALL, Exterior Parking Lot (opposite to gate 6), from 10 AM to 10 PM.In fact, whenever I return to the States after a few months in Italy, I'm struck by how often this simple dish is cooked poorly and sauced badly. ''We're still stuck in the legacy of immigrant Italians who tried to stave off hunger by consuming large amounts of pasta,'' said Mr.''I really think it's time for some pasta therapy,'' Mr. ''We Americans need to get back to the basics, the 1-2-3's of pasta. '' According to every Italian I know, overcooking is the single most common American failing.
The bias for fresh over dried is just one of the pasta misunderstandings from which we Americans suffer. ''We overcook pasta, we serve it in immense portions, and we oversauce it.'' Why?Italian cooks, professional and at home, are fully persuaded that commercial dried pasta is a high-quality product, every bit as tasty as -- and often even better than -- pasta fresca.My own moment of truth took place years ago in a vaunted restaurant in Aspen, Colo., when I was faced with a large oval plate on which slippery, slimy, overcooked corkscrews peeped shyly from a small lake of highly seasoned, cream-thickened sauce. And I recognized that the ''more is always better'' creed operating on so many American tables was anathema to an appreciation of Italian cuisine. ''They don't do that in the south of Italy anymore, you know.That's as true in restaurants (including Italian restaurants in the United States) as in home kitchens. Just ask Fred Plotkin, who wrote the highly regarded ''Authentic Pasta Book'' (Simon & Schuster, 1995) and who has another book, ''Recipes From Paradise'' (Little, Brown), due in October. Plotkin, who lives part of the year in the Ligurian seaside town of Camogli.(Durum-wheat flour is higher in protein and better able to stand up to the rigors of pasta making and cooking than softer bread flour, which is used for making most pasta fresca.