Everything begins with eggs and flour. Taking just these two ingredients to start, every week Patrizia gives the Passugger team an insight into her world of homemade Italian pasta. Her commitment gives Allegra Passugger the opportunity to express its appreciation of the team: every Tuesday – when the nearby Mühle restaurant is closed for the day – management arranges for Patrizia to cook for the entire workforce.
As she arrives at the Passugger plant canteen at 9.30 am, everything is quiet. Sunlight falls onto the work surface in the kitchen or, depending on the time of year, onto the large empty table at which the staff will later eat. Her day here begins the same way every time, as she hauls her cloth shopping bags onto the counter and begins to unpack ingredients from them. Fresh eggs from the farm shop, salad, vegetables – today it’s courgettes, radishes, celery and carrots – beef, red wine, cream, vanilla pods and a few other ingredients that Patrizia doesn’t want to reveal here. “A la casalinga” cuisine has its own secrets of course. Basic ingredients such as flour, onions, garlic, herbs and olive oil are always available in the kitchen, which is well used by the Passugger team on other working days.
First, she prepares the sauce, or more correctly, the ragù; or to be even more exactly correct, a classic ragù alla bolognese Before long the mainly black interior of the kitchen is filled with a familiar aroma which is distinctive to Italian cooking, and which draws us in long before the food is served. And the wait for food to arrive on the table will be a long one, because as Patrizia tells us, time is one of the key ingredients for a successful meal, says Patrizia. Now to the pasta. She mixes flour and eggs in a large bowl, adds salt with a meaningful glance, and continues adding small amounts of water. What happens in the next 15 minutes is fascinating, although it’s clear what the end result will be. Patrizia kneads the dough powerfully, yet with elegance, in the sort of ritual which always appears strange to the casual observer. Today sunshine spotlights the specks of flour that are hanging in the air, creating the effect of a scene shot by Baz Luhrmann.
The whole picture makes you want to applaud enthusiastically. And it goes without saying that the sheer privilege of experiencing – at such close quarters – Patrizia’s classic culinary expertise, honed over decades, is also enhanced by the sweet aromatic quality of the huge ragù pot.
Coming back down to earth, it is clear that this is not the moment for such raptures; we can revisit them later, when the workforce showers its Tuesday chef with compliments, justly acknowledging her passion for cooking.
After the dough has been kneaded, piece by piece it is repeatedly rolled out and lifted from the floured work surface until it is transparent. Patrizia then cuts it into long, 2 cm wide strips: Papardelle. The perfect noodle for her ragù, she says, before asking whether we know that the Italian word “pappare” means something like “gobble down”. We probably should have been able to guess that.
When the hungry Passugger team arrives shortly after noon, there are already several bowls of salad on the tables. Prepared by Patrizia with just as much love as the pasta, the radishes and courgettes are used here to complement the jagged green rocket leaves with red-white and white-green round discs.
However, the high point – as it is every Tuesday – is the moment when Patrizia brings her homemade pasta to the table. You would swear you heard someone shout “bravo!” even before the first bowl was set down onto the table.
At this point we can reveal that Patrizia also serves a dessert every week, even though she is “only” asked to prepare a starter/main meal. “Any good lunch has to be rounded off with something sweet,” she says. She also says that the extra work involved in putting a dessert together is no trouble at all; today she serves panna cotta.