Pastina is a tiny star shaped pasta. It is cooked like rice whereby boiled water soaks into the pasta creating plump creamy stars. Add butter and a splash of milk, stir, and a perfect baby to granny lunch is ready. I had always known pastina to be a pantry staple.
My favorite memory of pastina was when I was seven years old. My mom had a permanent substitute gym teacher position. Her school was on a split session, so she was out the door before 7 a.m. and home by 1:30.
I was in second grade and my sister, Mary, was in first. My two younger sisters and baby brother stayed at home with Josie, our babysitter. Josie was a grandmotherly lady who wore a house dress and clicked her dentures between sentences. She was an efficient housekeeper and the kindest lady I had known outside of my family. We loved her.
Back then, kids walked to school. At lunchtime, Mary and I walked home. Our little sisters were already sitting around the kitchen table, and Billy Boy was strapped in the high chair. Josie stirred the milk in the pastina pot and ordered Mary and I to wash our hands. Josie dolloped each of us a cereal bowlful of pastina with a pat of butter on the top. Buttery warmth wafted into our noses.
“It’s hot girls,” warned Josie. She’d click her teeth and say, “Take a small scoop from the edge.” She would scrape an edge of pastina into a teaspoon spoon, blow gently, then fed it to the excited baby. Within minutes, my brother’s little hands and face was happily covered in stars.
Equipped with a full belly of pastina, Mary and I were ready to finish our afternoon at school. We’d kiss our little siblings goodbye. It was time for their naps. Josie wrapped Mary and I in a big hug then sent us on our way.
Welcome to my Blogging A-Z April 2018 Challenge. My theme is Food Stories Remembered because there is always a story when food is involved. I consider myself a good home cook with a great appetite for hearty food. I have witnessed the creation of favorite recipes in friends’ kitchens and have learned from the best—my mother, grandmother, and mother-in-law. Recipes may be included. I am remaining uncommitted on this because when I cook, I seldom measure. If you try any of my recipes, you are cooking at your own risk. Grab a glass of wine. Hope you’re hungry!
Antoinette Truglio Martin is the author of Hug Everyone You Know: A Year of Community, Courage, and Cancer. The memoir is a wimpy patient’s journey through her first year of breast cancer treatment.