Hello ACI family! I got more feedback from my last newsletter post alone than adding together all the feedback I’ve ever gotten from every other newsletter I’ve ever written combined together. Several people even stopped and chatted with me or sent me emails about my coconut story in the last newsletter, so I figured maybe you’d like another story. I’ll call this one “Buttered Noodles and the importance of seasoning”.
Since I’ve been a Dad I’ve gotten used to cooking for my two boys. I’m grateful that they aren’t nearly as picky as I’m told some kids can be, but they’re definitely still picky. Somewhere along the line, like many kids, they decided they like the simple dish of Buttered Noodles, so I make it for them pretty often on the weekends for lunch. I couldn’t help myself, so I decided if I was gonna do it often, I was gonna tinker around with it until I found a method/combination that they liked, and I wanted to be able to recreate it consistently to minimize complaining. For a lunch portion for the two of them, I eventually settled on 1 cup of dry Ditalini pasta, cooked in plenty of salted water. Toward the end, reserve a couple tablespoons of the pasta water. Drain the pasta, then place it back into the pot, add two tablespoons of pasta water, and half-a-stick of unsalted butter. Then stir the pot, off the heat, until the butter melts to coat the Ditalini. Instead of being all greasy and gross, the butter and pasta water give the noodles a more saucy texture. And YES, no matter how many times I make it, I do still measure all the ingredients…..except one: the salt in the pasta water. I always just add it “to taste”. The salt in the water is the 1 and only variable in the entire dish. The kids have grown to love this version of Buttered Noodles and they ask for it often. But, despite my best efforts, wouldn’t you know it: they can taste a difference every time based on the amount of salt I add to the water. I’ll get all of the following feedback: “Dad, this is a really good batch!”, or “Dad, you went a little heavy on the salt”, or “Dad, can you put a little extra salt on my noodles, because I don’t think you salted the water enough”. God dammit. Everybody is a critic! But it is interesting isn’t it? 1) A consistent recipe, 2) Everything measured, 3) Same method, every time. And yet, even as kids, we can taste when the seasoning is even a little off. So the next time you’re questioning the importance of good consistent seasoning, just think that if picky kids eating buttered noodles can tell the difference, you better believe your customer can too…..