I truly have a thing for noodles. The slippery texture, the bite, the hearty nature and the silken texture. My noodle love goes beyond just noodles. It is really a pasta fetish. Ravioli, lasagna, agnolotti, fideos, cavatelli, the list goes on; heck even risotto falls into the mix. That is not to say that I am a traditionalist. Sure the noodles can be flour or starch based. Thankfully pasta in its original form is just the tip, the beginning, the spark.
What can we do with the traditional? How can what exists be the foundation for a variety of applications? What does it taste like and how can we exploit that taste? What is the texture, does it change, can it evolve? And, what is it not? I think the last question has been truly useful. In knowing what something is not allows for a greater understanding of what is and can be. It also allows for a shift in thinking and many times a break or alteration from existing mind sets.
Today we made a dish which has been gathering dust in my notebooks. It is cacio e pepe made with noodles of papaya, dried papaya seeds (mimicking the peppercorns) and shaved pecorino Crotonese. The dish is simple, like the original. We have made a substitution or two which transforms a pasta dish which I have indulged in many of times to a lighter almost salad like dish of warmed papaya with cheese and its own peppercorn. While today we served the noodles on their own I could also see the cacio e pepe component as a side dish or a component of another preparation. For now, I am enjoying a plateful of slippery noodles slicked with olive oil and butter, seasoned with the pecorino and spirited by the dried papaya seeds.