Tables covered in clean plastic sheets, were set with a soda can and a bag of flour at each work station. Ready to prepare pasta on these tables were attendees of the June 24 Teen Pasta Party at Northside Library.
“At the pasta party, one of our goals is to teach kids who have never cooked before how easy it is and healthy it is to make their own pasta,” says Angela Ocana, branch librarian at Northside Library. “We are spending a few minutes talking about what pasta is and its general ingredients. Then we’re going to get our hands messy and make our first batch. There’s a period when we’re making pasta where the pasta has to rest. During that time I’m going to go over easy ingredients for sauces.”
Reading a book about the craft of pasta making sparked Ocana’s passion for creating the common Italian staple from scratch and mixing it up with varying ingredients. At the pasta party, Ocana asked attendees to wash their hands first. Then she announced that making pasta requires only two ingredients: flour and eggs. The attendees made a flour volcano with eggs sitting inside the middle. With fingers and forks, they assembled a ball of dough, kneaded it, and let it sit. Then they cut their dough into four pieces and rolled each piece into thin strips using the soda can, standing in for a rolling pin. To make sauces, they added tomatoes and herbs to an organic tomato base.
The young attendees’ faces glowed with wonder and amusement as they experimented with their ingredients, which sometimes left behind sticky fingers.
“This workshop is a good way to keep myself entertained,” says Ryota, 14. “I came here to try something new.”
“I like cooking and I’ve made my own pasta sauces before,” says Joy, 13. “I’ve never made pasta from scratch though. Now I can make pasta, sauce and garlic bread all from scratch.”
“I’m learning here that dough can be very sticky,” says Jade, 12. “But if you mush it together, it can become smooth.”
“I haven’t made pasta before and so I enjoy making this dough,” says Lily, 13.
“All our summer reading programs encourage teens to come out to the library and hang out with their peers and hopefully read as well,” Ocana says. “We want the library to be a hub for them and a safe hang out place.”