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November 01, 2012


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Alicia (foodycat)

What an intriguing-sounding book! And your trofiette look beautiful.


Sembra un libro molto interessante.

Ho fatto i cavatelli recentemente, devo dire che se non avessi centomila altre cose da fare la pasta in casa e' molto meditativa, pero' e' troppo laboriosa.

Quando ci vediamo?


Ciao Simona, mi ci metto anch'io perche' vorrei tanto avere questo libro! :-D

The history of Jefferson's involvement with food is indeed interesting. Here you concentrated on the pasta, but I'm sure the book also goes into the matter of Jefferson and rice. At the time, the US already had a flourishing rice "industry" (based on slavery in the Carolinas), but it was the long-grained rice still favored by Americans today. During his trip to Europe, J. became interested in the short-grained rice of the Italian Po Valley (of which Arborio is a type). He actually managed to smuggle (in his pockets!), or have smuggled, some of the rice as potential seed, although at the time this was a crime punishable by death in Italy.

People seem to think that this risk was undertaken due to his great love of agriculture and food, but perhaps there is a less benign explanation (there usually is). Because of the particularly nasty nature of rice cultivation before mechanization (see the Italian neo-Realist movie Bitter Rice), in America at the time only slaves could be gotten to do it. Could Jefferson have been thinking of a further, and particularly harsh, expansion of slave labor with the introduction of this crop?

Frank @Memorie di Angelina

Your talent for making homemade pasta is something to behold. All these shapes are so *perfectly* formed. I wish I had a tenth of your dexterity...


santo cielo, non ci posso credere ......hai fatto trofietta dopo trofietta a mano!!?? Santa subito ^_____^ tanti complimenti!!


As usual... you inspire me with your homemade intricate pastas... not to mention lots of interesting information. Thanks so much for being the perfect host... NINE TIMES!!!

Simona Carini

Thanks, Alicia.

Ciao Laura. Poi ti rispondo via email. La pasta e' certamente laboriosa anche perche' poi tu non ne puoi fare solo una o due porzioni per la tua famiglia.

Ciao Cinzia. Thank you so much for the note. The book does indeed talk about Jefferson and rice and it does relate the story of his rice smuggling operation. It also talks about the fact that Jefferson was impressed by how much cleaner the Italian rice was and that it did not break during cleaning, so he also bought a machine to bring back to the US. The article on the Smithsonian website that I cite talks specifically about Jefferson's realization of the lucrative side of slavery.

Thanks for your kind words Frank. If you are in California in December, I am teaching a pasta-making class ;)

Ebbene si', Martissima. E grazie per l'onore :)

Thanks for your kind words, Ruth. Each one of them was a pleasure for me.


There is a long article on the monticello.org site at http://www.monticello.org/site/house-and-gardens/rice which goes into the fascinating topic of Jefferson and rice. The rice he smuggled from Italy ended up in South Carolina. Later, Jefferson became intrigued with dry or mountain rice, seeking it from Vietnam and Africa, precisely in order to avoid the miserable conditions and disease, notably malaria, associated with wet rice cultivation (the Italian rice workers were sometimes called schiavandari, from schiavo, slave). But reading the Smithsonian article, one can see that at least some of Jefferson's motivation was not humane, but cost-efficiency. He noted that most profit from slavery came from reproduction of the slaves, and calculated a yearly return of 4%. Chilling. And of course the malaria would effect the white colonists, too.

Be', scusami le lungaggini, ma e' davvero interessante. Dimenticavo, complimenti per l'inclusione su Sale e Pepe, lo prendevo spesso quando stavo in Italia.


sorry, typo: "affect the white colonists," not "effect the white colonists."


I really like that you added the video to your post - it makes it look so easy, and there is something about the tactile experience that makes this very appealing!

My Italian Smörgåsbord

these look delicious and simple enough to make me feel like I want to try making them. plus they are from Liguria, a region which I truly love. thank you for all the tips (especially the link to the video!). ciao!

Simona Carini

Grazie, Cinzia! Jefferson's efforts to bring to America the crops from which he thought the country could benefit are certainly one of his most interesting aspects. Of course, as I mention and as you reiterate, his attitude towards slavery makes us pause and affect the view we have of him.

Ciao Duespaghetti. I wish I were better at making videos. Hopefully, at some point I will do something more professional-looking. I agree that videos are helpful in this case: it is not easy to explain in words what a few seconds of images can clearly show.

Ciao Barbara. I hope you give them a try. None of the pasta shapes I have featured in recent months is really difficult and all are quite rewarding to make. Trofiette with pesto would make a festive dish for the Holiday table, for example.

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