Pastina and Eggs

Pastina and eggs, or as we said it, “pasteen ‘n eggs” (as one word) is a wonderful recollection of childhood. I’m back in the world of Eisenhower and Howdy Doody. The television was a small screen encased in a large piece of furniture. Snow days closed school and we were free. Snow was colder then. The sky was grayer. Out we went, into the blizzard, out in our multiple layers of pants and scarves and snowsuits tucked into knee high boots. We played until our faces were frozen. At some point our mother called us in much to a combination of our reluctance to admit cold and the desire to play forever in the snow. Freed of our many skins we were then re-dressed in corduroy that had been heated on the open stove door. There was the required small cup of tea and milk touched ever so slightly with a drop of whiskey. We didn’t like that much. The tea was followed by our snow day lunch: our still very red cheeks and noses bent lustily over a bowl heaping with the creamy sweetness of hot pasta and eggs and fragrant cheese.

This is such an easy recipe. It is certainly nothing special. But, it’s a dish that risks being forgotten in a world that eats cardboard box macaroni processed with orange dyed powders. Pastina and eggs takes no more than about ten to fifteen minutes and offers such a delicate delight as to please not only the adult palette but even the most difficult of children. Properly prepared and finished, pastina and eggs’ smooth and velvety texture might even meet the requirements of a pasta first course in a full dinner. If used in this way, add the luxury of finely sliced porcini mushrooms, or, if you have the price, the exotic truffle.

The pastina used for this dish may take any number of several shapes. It may be “stars,” or small grain “orzo” (as in the recipe below), or “acini di pepe,” the finest of the small pastina and the most commonly used for this recipe. The eggs should be from pastured chickens. They are such a rich yellow. The best cheeses would certainly include good grated parmesan. You might also add hand broken fresh mozzarella or even a grated scamorza. Even if it’s not cold outside, this is the most comforting lunch and one that induces a wonderful afternoon nap.

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