Chef Ricci - The first bite

Do you ever remember a time when you saw or tasted something that changed your mind about food?

I had that moment when I was 14 years old. I recall watching my mom make hand-cut fettuccine on her pasta board … apron on sideways, flour on her nose, smile on her face.

I loved her pasta with tomato sauce and cheese – it was like, “Wow!’ But I never ate vegetables. I never tried anything that wasn’t just tomato sauce. Somehow, that night was different. Maybe it was watching her joy as she worked, who knows? But I watched as she took the tail end of a prosciutto and chopped it into small cuts, added fresh summer peas, Parmigiano and cream.

“Tonight,” she said, “you are going to try this Alfredo with Panna, peas and prosciutto, the three ‘P’ pasta.”

I can honestly still visualize her making this dish and later, I remember sitting at my end of the dinner table, as far away as I could be from my dad in case I had to avoid a quick backhand to my head if I didn’t like it and refused to eat. I twirled the pasta onto my fork, peas and all, took that first bite and BOOM, the peas exploded with prosciutto, cheese and cream in my mouth. It was like a wake-up call to my head of sweet, tasty, cheesy goodness.

From that day on, I never refused to try anything my mom made. I still recall trying to make that dish myself when I was 15 and burning the cream as I tried to capture that same taste again. I failed, but hey, I still tried.

And I went on from there to explore. You name it, I tried everything in that kitchen and it was a so cool knowing that I could feed myself.

Now moving to modern times, I keep trying to get my two boys to try something new. It’s hard sometimes, but I keep trying because one day, I know I hope that I can hit on that one BOOM, that one explosion of taste that opens them up to new worlds, just like my mom did with me.

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