Menu: Farfalle with aubergine & tuna in tomato sauce, Baba ham kyuri, Mashed pumpkin with boiled egg
Apple mousse & mashed sweet potato for dessert. Dash of cinnamon on top
When I was growing up, my mum never packed pasta for lunch. Maybe sandwich if not rice, but never ever pasta in my recollection. In fact my mum hardly ever cooked pasta as it wasn’t as popular and widespread as it is now. As far as pasta is concerned, I remember my mum’s macaroni salad (i.e. macaroni mixed with sliced cucumber, carrot and ham, seasoned with mayonnaise) and Spaghetti Napolitan (i.e. spaghetti with bacon, green pepper and onion, seasoned with tomato ketchup – no idea why it’s called Napolitan though). That’s about it.
I remember going to this brand new, rather posh cafe/restaurant with my mum and sister in our neighbourhood in the suburban city of Gumma (where I grew up), ordering some pasta with very exotic names such as “Spaghetti Monte Mare (combination of mushroom & seafood)” or “Spaghetti Basilico (prepared with Japanese shiso herb instead of real basil because basil just didn’t exist at that time in Japan).” Considering how limited the options used to be for Italian dishes, it is incredible how authentic Italian cuisine has become over the years in this country.
About ten years ago I lived in Italy for over a year, and I fell in love with Italian pasta. I actually lived on it during my stay there. And now I cook pasta all the the time since I often get this craving for it. My daughter, being fed by me on a daily basis, loves pasta as well. When I ask her what her favorite food is, she always answers, “PASTA!,”not rice. Being Japanese, I feel somehow neglected by my own daughter, but the good food is universal, and so is the content of my daughter’s bento.