Fanny likens most of the pasta served in 'our little island home' in the 1970's as 'stewed knitting'. Her aim in the Pasta Partwork is to eliminate this from our future diets and show us all how great the pastas of Italy can truly be. Did she succeed? We certainly embrace the wonders of pasta warmly these days. Can Fanny really take the credit? We could mostly, no doubt, name the 39 pasta shapes Fanny collects together for us as an education. She bought them all in a lovely little shop in Soho, but gives an address to write to a very helpful man in St Albans who will advise if you tell him what you have been unable to obtain, should you not be fortunate enough to shop in Soho. I wonder if he was flooded with requests?
Continuing her education, Fanny gives a culinary history of Italian fare, comparing it to her beloved French Cuisine. She notes that where French Cookery is divided into four groupings - La Cuisine Régionale, La Cuisine Familiale, La Cuisine Bourgeoise (modest but good) and Haute Cuisine Française (the crowning glory) - Italian is a collection of regional cookery featuring infinite variations of pasta throughout. But how did it cross over to our unadventurous little island? Fanny reckons its all to do with returning soldiers heading home after the Second World War.
Hordes of fighting forces folk apparently headed home from Italy clamouring for pasta, only to be offered English horrors boiled until flabby and tasting like boiled jumpers. So they rebelled, insisting that their 'womenfolk' discovered the proper way to cook pasta. Thanks Heavens Fanny was there to help, who knows what might've happened if not. Fanny comments that it was a reverse of normal culinary history too, where men were usually a stumbling block to their women experimenting. New dishes and cuisines would traditionally be given a repugnant look and a mutter "Why can't I have my food plain the way my mother made it?" Fanny reckons their Italian military service was a tremendous 'boon' ending irritating eruptions from 'menfolk' taking the pleasure out of any special dish.
But what if we don't know how to cook pasta, or worse still, how to eat it properly? Fanny to the rescue! Cooking is simple - lots of boiling water and seasoned well, over salted is essential. As for eating, its probably best if Fanny shows you. The correct way is to press spaghetti with a fork against a spoon, turning the fork round to form a neat mouthful. Then, shove it in, with a certain amount of decency. The incorrect way is of course just to heave it all up on fork requiring a friendly assistant, in this case René, to come to your rescue with scissors.
Of course with the importation of pasta comes equally exotic ingredients too, like garlic, which may not be to everyones taste. Except certain mystics who have seemingly long employed its benefits against evil forces. Fanny also uses garlic to weave magic spells on people who claim to be fervent haters. The key is to crush it down with a small piece of wood and hide it in every dish at your big buffet parties. Then simply chortle as folk leave 'reeking of it', but thanking you for not giving them any garlic, as you know full well how much they hate it. It's witchcraft alright. Fanny has fooled us all, we now eat pasta AND garlic like it's going out fashion. Little did we realise that is was Fanny herself who made it popular. Making little carts for your toy donkeys to pull around from all your pretty pasta never quite caught on though... Some magic spells will just never work.