My relation with Pasta is not something that goes back to my grandmother's or even my Mother's kitchen. My grandmother had no idea about it and my Mother didn't care about it.
It wasn't a food that we even craved for. As a middle class Bengali, way back in the 90's, I don't think we had much idea about Italy beyond Roberto Baggio,Salvatore Schillaci, Michelangelo and Pope John Paul 2, in that order. We weren't bothered about what Italians ate.
Though Pizza had found its way in middle class Indian homes in the early nineties and was described as a kind of "ruti" with ketchup and Amul cheese on it, it was embraced as a food which the rich Americans with poor eating habits, survived on. Very few of us deemed it as food from Italian kitchen. In those days, Domino's and Pizza Hut were not familiar names and Mongini's was where we got our pizza from. Mini round thick crusts with onion, pepper and cheese on them. I think they also sold pizza bases there which I remember getting a few times.
My Mother had this round electric oven, shaped like an UFO. It had a glass porthole at the top of the aluminum lid and couple of times a year, she used this contraption to bake a cake. On all other days it rested on the top of our Godrej almirah, wrapped in sheaths of plastic. I remember the few times that I made pizza in that oven. Squirting ketchup on the pizza base, shredding Amul cheese on it and then watching the cheese melt through the porthole, I am sure I felt like a pioneer ushering in a new cuisine at our modest dining table.
But did we ever try eating or cooking Pasta ? Nope. Never.
Until that is I started working in Bangalore in the late nineties and had a first taste of Casa Picola's delicious Pasta. I have no idea what kind it was but was in a creamy white sauce which was so subtle that it just tickled your senses without over powering it.It had capers and olives and was utterly delicious. That is what I thought was Pasta and loved it.
And then we came to the US. My first encounter with Pasta here was a disaster. At one of those "American-Italian" restaurants that are so popular here, I was served a plate of squiggly spaghetti drowned in a scarlet red colored marinara sauce, which was so bad that I sweared to stay off Pasta all my life. I never really tried eating or cooking pasta there after, except at a Bengali friend's home, who made elbow macaroni with onion, eggs, vegetables and soy sauce, in a similar manner that we make stir-fried noodles. It was so good and for a long time that was the only kind of Pasta I would eat.
But after Big Sis was born and started going to pre-school, pasta re-entered our home. It seemed like a lunch which a 3 year old could easily eat by herself at school. Even as I tried to come to terms with the wonder of pasta, elbow shaped Macaroni or "Macu" climbed the charts in Big Sis's favorite foods list.