5 Gift Ideas for People Who Love Pasta
This is a gift guide for people who love pasta, which means it’s a gift guide for people. Whether your giftee makes their own pasta or seeks out squid ink on the shelves of specialty stores, they definitely don’t have to travel to Italy for a delicious bowl of fettuccine. All they have to do is be friends with you! That is, assuming you take heed and buy them the following gifts.
Anyone who loves pasta probably wants to make pasta, and Marc Vetri is the guy to learn from. His book Mastering Pasta makes it easy, with step-by-step photos—especially useful if your giftee is more of a visual learner. With 100 recipes and over 30 types of pasta, there’s bound to be at least one in there that your friend won't mess up. Probably. Also, a guide to flours will enlighten even the most advanced of pastaiolos.*
*The unofficial nickname for a person who makes pasta for a living.
You don’t have to make your own pasta, though. Dried pasta has been stigmatized for really no good reason, because at the end of the day, it’s less work for not necessarily a lesser product. Plus, just like some pasta shapes work better with particular sauces (uh hello, macaroni and cheese), some sauces work better with dried pasta than fresh. Martelli Spaghetti is made with native Italian wheats, bronze dies, and dried by natural process in small batches. Go ahead, spend more than a few extra bucks on that pretty yellow bag of pasta and instantly up your recipient’s pantry game. The less time they’re in the kitchen rolling dough, the more time you get to spend together, and isn’t that what the holidays are all about?
Red Curry Noodle Bowl
A Glass Pot
The point of gifting is to buy someone something they wouldn’t buy for themselves, like a glass pot. If you love someone, and I mean really love someone, you’ll go above and beyond to get them this handmade-in-Italy, completely unnecessary but unbelievably cool-looking glass pot that defies physics (and myth) and boils when watched. It’s like magic.
Rao’s Homemade Extra Virgin Olive Oil
This list would not be complete without olive oil, which is as essential to Italian cooking as butter is to French. (Butter is also important in Italian cooking, and also every other cuisine.) Rao’s has been a cornerstone of the New York City dining scene for well over a century, but the restaurant only has about 10 seats and you basically have to know someone who knows someone to get a table. Bless you, Internet. You can buy Rao’s olive oil—and salad dressing and cooking sauce and other stuff—online, so unless you can get your friend a table at Rao’s for Christmas (take me instead!), this is the closest you’re going to get.
La Dispensa di Amerigo Jarred Tomatoes
A friend of mine recently went to Italy to learn how to cook pasta, and found himself at a trattoria in Bologna called Amerigo 1934. When he came back, he found some of the trattoria’s tomatoes jarred and stocked at speciality stores. Amerigo 1934 is a 70-something-year-old Michelin-starred trattoria located in the culinary capital of the country, Emilia-Romagna, just outside of Bologna. Basically, unless you’ve preserved your own tomatoes from peak growing season, you’re not going to get any better than this. Yes, you are paying $10 for a jar of tomatoes, but like I said earlier, the point of gifting is to give someone something they wouldn’t buy for themselves. Also, said friend is a chef, so we eat what he tells us to eat.