Why Would Anyone Ever Make Their Own Pasta?

I make a lot of things from scratch. There are certain things that just taste better when you make it yourself from scratch. There is nothing like the taste of bread fresh out of the oven. Even if you aren’t that good at making bread it will taste great if you eat it right out of the oven. There are other things though that are a complete waste of time as you end doing all kinds of work and creating a giant mess only to end up with something that is no better, and often worse tasting, than what you could have bought in the grocery store. There is no better example of this than pasta.

I have eaten pasta that was made by hand at several wonderful, high end restaurants. It tasted fine, but for the life of me I would never be able to tell the difference between that and the fresh pasta that I have bought at the grocery store.  Foods like beef add flavour, which is why it is perfectly acceptable to throw a steak on a grill and eat it as is when it is cooked. Pasta, on the other hand, is one of the foods that carry flavour, which is why it is generally served with tomato and meat based sauces. If you are eating lasagna, it will not make one bit of difference whether you made your pasta yourself or bought it in a grocery store as the flavour from the meat, cheese, and tomato will completely overwhelm the pasta. The pasta will impart only slightly more flavour to the dish than casserole dish it was cooked in.

That being said, if pasta was easy to make, I would still probably cook it from scratch; but it isn’t. Cooking pasta is an ordeal. Once you make your dough, you then have to roll it through a pasta press about a dozen times and after all that you then have to go about shaping it into whatever type of pasta you want. I guess I could see making simple rectangular pieces for lasagna but why in God’s name would anyone bother making macaroni, or, perish the thought, bowtie pasta?

Compare this with making bread. With the no-knead method, you can spend two minutes mixing together a few ingredients, leave it overnight, knock it down and dump it in a bread pan, leave it for a couple of hours, then pop it in the oven for a half an hour and you have a wonderful loaf of bread. The return per minute of actual work is tremendous. Making homemade pasta is, after making homemade butter, the least efficient use of your time in the kitchen. If you want to eat pasta and enjoy the feeling of cooking from scratch, just throw a can of tomatoes in a pot with a diced onion, some garlic, and some oregano and you’ve got a homemade tomato sauce to pour over the pasta. Serve some homemade bread with it and nobody will question where your pasta came from.