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by Fred McMillin
Mother Needed a Cure
Mrs. Di Lelio was having difficulty recovering from childbirth. She was not eating well. Her husband-chef went to work to cure that. Alfredo Di Lelio whipped up a new version of Italy's favorite fettuccine...ribbon-like egg noodles, butter, cream and Parmesan cheese. It worked at home, and then at his restaurant in Rome.
The year was 1914. Thirteen years later, the dish became world famous, when it was discovered by movie stars Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. Alfredo was known for the flamboyant presentation of his creation. When we visited Alfredo's years later, we found his son and grandson, Alfredo the Third, had learned the lesson well. Also, Alfredo III showed me how to eat the long noodles without cutting them...as explained in our Postscript.
Before we turn to the wine, let's check the origins of fettuccine. Milestones:
405 A.D.—A Germanic tribe brings their Nudel (noodle) dish to Italy.
1280 A.D.—Marco Polo stimulates Italy's interest in pasta by telling of China's use of noodles, which he calls "lasagna."
1400—Commercial pasta production commences in Italy. It is so popular that the shops must hire nightwatchmen to protect their inventories.
Enough. Today there are dozens of variations of Italian pasta. What's the distinctive characteristic of fettuccine? The thin pasta is rolled and then cut into 1/4-inch-wide slices...the Italian word for slice is fetta. Now, to the wine at Alfredo's. It was a light white, about three years old, judging by the yellowing color and the maturity of the nose and flavors. Can't say more because it was poured from a pitcher! Hence, today's wine is a white, light, third-year California-Italian varietal, Pinot Grigio...
Wine of the Day
1997 Pinot Grigio (gree-zhoh) by Ivan Tamas
Alfredo III's instructions on forking fettuccine:
Note—For more about the Ivan Tamas Winery and what they do with the grape that makes the most wine in the world, see the Oct. 19, 1999 WineDay title "Reely, Reely BIG."
05/23/00—Hooray for Gamay
05/19/00—Why Fels Sells
05/18/00—Okey Dokey "nyoh-ky"
05/17/00—High on a Lonely Hill
05/16/00—A Large Lab
05/15/00—The Pioneering Pedroncellis
05/12/00—Trouble at Telmo
05/11/00—A Mother's Day Travail
05/05/00—Mendocino. Where's the Vino?
05/04/00—Pink Gets No Ink
05/02/00—Black and White
05/01/00—Your May 1st Symphony
This page created May 2000