At the Jewish Holiday of Chanukah, it is tradition to light candles in an eight branched candle holder, to play with a spinning top and to eat fried potato pancakes. In Israel luscious plump and oil tanned doughnuts oozing with red jam are the food of fare for the holiday season. It is also the custom to give presents, commonly from parents to children and occasionally between sweethearts. Many years have passed since I received the seasonal Chanukah gift and I decided that this year would be different.
In keeping with my budding hobby of cake decorating and after having read time and again how important it is to roll fondant or modeling chocolate paper thin, I decided to gift myself a pasta machine.
The search for a pasta machine began about a month ago with visits to several different kitchen appliance stores. Each model displayed appeared to be more complex than its neighbor, and of course, each had its own set of accessories: a tree like gizmo for drying pasta leaves, an extra head to create ravioli, cannelloni and a whole range of other pasta shapes and sizes that no honorable Italian household would ever be without.
“I just want the machine for rolling modeling chocolate,” I attempted to explain to the young man in jeans and white buttoned down shirt who was trying to persuade me to purchase the machine with the two extra heads. “I don’t need all those supplementary features”, I heard myself say out loud after the young man had despaired, walked away and was already busy assisting yet another bewildered customer.
My search moved on to the more general household chain stores. There among the vast assortment of sandwich toasters, nut choppers, blenders and ice cream makers, I spotted a row containing several different pasta machines.
“What width machine do you want?” asked the busty well dressed sales lady who suddenly appeared behind me after having wandered between the aisles as if in search of prey. “We have 15 cm, 18 cm and even 21 cm.”
“I don’t know.” I answered timidly feeling even more flustered than before. “I just need it for rolling modeling chocolate”, I replied as I left the store without buying a thing.
“Do you by chance carry pasta machines?” I asked yet again at the cake decorating boutique where I regularly buy my dark Belgium chocolate and my dairy free white chocolate.
“Yes of course,” replied the heavy set man who stood in back of the counter.
“How many different models do you have?” a voice emerging from within me asked meekly.
“Just the one.” He replied.
“And how many sizes does it come in?” I asked again armed with a bit more confidence.
“Just the one.” He replied.
Wonderful, I thought. No decisions to make! But the price that he quoted was much more than I wanted to spend, especially for something that I didn’t even know I would actually use. I’ve already bought too many orphaned gadgets that take up much too much room in my limited kitchen cabinets. “Anything that you find cheaper than this is just junk,” said the man with a half twist of his head as if negating my presence and even my existence. “It’ll just rust and fall apart,” he mumbled while attempting to straighten a leaning tower of cake dummies. “The chocolate will get stuck in the wheels and you’ll have to throw it out within the year. Better to buy nothing and to stay with your rolling pin if you don’t buy something good.”
“Good” of course meant expensive.
So there I was back to square one. Even my reliable chocolate supply shop was of no help and I walked out with just the kilo of Callebaut packed in its clear rectangular plastic container, even more perturbed than at the start of my quest.
Two weeks have gone by since the holiday ended and unable to decide among the many brands, sizes, styles and prices, I continue to roll my paste by hand employing the same heavy wooden pin that I’ve used for over thirty years and envying each and every internet tutorial that shows off beautifully thin leaves of gum paste that just happen to have been rolled by a pasta machine.