Since I was born, I am blessed to say that I was lucky to have food already prepared every morning, lunch, and dinner time made by my mom. But to my benefit, it wasn’t so good because it made me lazy to learn how to cook and be even more dependent of my mom to cook all the meals. Now that I’m a grown woman, I feel horrible for not even trying to attempt to even make a proper dish. Don’t get me wrong, I did help once in a while to chop up some vegetables and fry some things but those are inexcusable because its easy to do. What I mean’t was to be on my own, find a recipe, and prepare a decent meal for the whole family to eat. So, although, it took me some time to finally grow up, I took a chance and tried to make Chicken Pesto Pasta.
This was a simple dish with probably less than ten ingredients. For the pesto sauce I only needed basil leaves, grated cheese, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil to mix into a puree and the rest I just needed to grill chicken breast and boil pasta noodles. How hard does that sound? Not at all. However, due to my unexperienced self, my first attempt was a no go. My noodles we overcooked, my chicken was undercooked, and my pesto sauce needed to be mixed more, it was too nutty. It was a mess or really I was a mess. I broke down to my boyfriend and told him, “I give up, I’m wasting food” I felt as though I wasn’t smart enough to cook anything, I guess with my mom making the meals almost everyday it really impacted me in a bad way. As I sat down, my boyfriend replied softly, “Its okay babe, I know you can cook. Just try again, we still have ingredients.” Because of him being there and supporting me throughout this process, it helped me to calm down and decided to try again. All I needed was someone to push me and I finally have someone who will. Without him, I know for a fact I would have given up and asked my mom to cook it for me. But I stood up from where I was sitting and started to gather of what was left over from the ingredients I bought.
To fix my mistakes I made sure I did more or less of what I did last time and it turned out much better than the first attempt: the noodles weren’t sticking all together, my chicken was well done because I decided to fry it for about ten minutes then bake it for twenty-five minutes (it got deliciously crispy and I decided to add some herb spices and diced garlic on top), and my pesto was smoother leaving it in the blender more. My Chicken Pesto Pasta turned out better than ever. I felt so accomplished and proud of myself. I actually wanted to find more recipes and cook some more but it was already 2 in the morning. Anyways, after cooking this dish successfully, it really boosted up my self-esteem and self-confidence. It made me realize that I shouldn’t give up so easily and to always try again. And it also made me realize that practice does make perfect because without practice there will be no improvement.
Genoa, Italy (From Google.com)
Learning about the history of Rome and Greece throughout middle school and high school, has made me want to travel around the different areas of Europe, especially Italy. In the textbooks that we were forced to read, I saw so many amazing photos that I would like to see in person someday, such as: the leaning tower of Pisa, the Colosseum, 18th Chapel, and many more. But what astonished me more were the foods that they were famous for: wines, pizza, pasta, desserts. So Italian food is a must eat for me. Even as I write this, I wished there was an Italian restaurant across the street from my house, oh what a dream!
Since my obsession towards pesto dishes grew, I was curious to know where it originated. All I knew was it was from Italy–well every pasta to me I believe is to come from Italy! Yes, that’s how you know I need to research more on my history of foods. So probably after trying three different variations of pesto pizza slices and pastas, I decided to look up when and where pesto was made.
Portofino Genoa – Italian Rivera (From Google.com)
From what I’ve learned, Pesto, with five simple ingredients of fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts, grated parmesan cheese, and olive oil, is a thick green grainy but smooth textured puree originated in the 16th century in Genoa, the capital of Liguria, northwestern coast of Italy. This puree, or sauce, can be used with all different types of pasta, ravioli, gnocchi, and for the flavoring of soups. It can also be topped on plain foods like pizza, chicken, and bread. Pesto is a very versatile sauce with other many variations that can be made modernly by replacing original ingredients or traditionally using the exact ingredients. Genoese claims that only the best pestos are only made in Italy due to their fresh produce and cannot be completely imitated or else you would not be able to call it by its original name. Although it may seem intimidating, Genoese people are just proud and have great respect for their creations. As stated by Corby Kummer, in the article “Pesto By Hand” of the Atlantic Monthly, “I learned about the essential nature of what Marcella Hazan calls, ‘the most seductive of all sauces for pasta,’ and the ever-fugitive nature of authenticity, during a trip to Liguria—the Italian Rivera, dominated by Genoa, which has made pesto its emblem.”
Ingredients: basil leaves, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts + grated cheese (not shown) (From Google.com)
Now that I am very familiar of the history and what pesto tastes, looks, feels like, to me it’s not just a sauce, it can individually speak for itself and be a dish on its own uniqueness. It is an art creation that makes people deep into thought and crave for more in every delicious bite.
Bella Lucca, 418 Geary Blvd. San Francisco, CA. (From Google.com)
Have you ever been to a restaurant, looked at what you ordered, and asked to yourself, “How do they make this so good?! What do you think they used?” Well, me and my significant other always have those two specific questions that we ask to each other whenever we have a chance to eat in places we never ate at before, whether its a dipped-and-fried-in-oil type of restaurant or the fancy put-a-napkin-on-your-lap type of dining. We both are always curious and end up trying to make it ourselves at home. When we were both free from school and work, we would try to guess what ingredients they used, buy it all from a wonderful grocery store called Winco, then gather all our cooking utensils, and head straight to the kitchen with our sleeves rolled up and my hair tied up in a bun. Most of the time the dishes we try to recreate are successful and that really motivates us both to keep trying new food and later making it our own unique way. Lately our latest crave would be towards Italian food and what pokes our interests the most would be the mouth watering Pesto dishes; it could be on pizza, pasta, or chicken, we seem to love the savory sauce on anything! I remember the first time we tried Pesto Chicken Pizza at a restaurant called Bella Lucca located in down town San Francisco. During that time, we were really up for an adventure so we decided to stroll around the different areas of SF: Union Square, Pier 39 on Fisherman’s wharf to be more specific. However after a long day of walking and enjoying ourselves being under the rare sunny weather, we got hungry. I asked my boyfriend a very serious question, “Do you know any good places to eat around here? I’m starving!” and my boyfriend replied, “I’m hungry too babe. I remember going one time with my brothers to this hella good pizza place. Their open until like 3 am. Lets try to find it because I don’t remember where it is (haha).” After getting lost so many times and calling his brothers for the directions we finally reached the place. I loved their spot, small, crowded, but they welcomed everyone with a smile. Once you step in you can smell the wonderful aroma of freshly baked pizza–Bella Lucca smelled amazing. My boyfriend and I ordered the Chicken Pesto and I clearly remember my boyfriend eagerly asking, “I wonder how they make it into this nutty but smooth texture?” and I replied with a laugh, “I have no idea but its so good though!” And that is when our love for pesto and cooking journey all began.