Newlywed learns you don't cook pasta by soaking it in water all day

Tracey Folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a family member, who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission.

When my uncle got married, his wife didn't know her way around the kitchen. Cooking was an entirely new concept for her.

During the first week of their marriage, she told my uncle she was going to prepare pasta and meatballs. She hoped the meal would be delicious, and she spared no effort in making sure everything was just right.

Not wanting the pasta to be too chewy or take too long to cook, she soaked the pasta in a pot full of water all day while she was away at work. She reasoned it would cook faster that way and be easier to chew.

I guess she wasn't a fan of al dente pasta, but I'll bet she wasn't a fan of what she ended up with either. At least al dente pasta is still edible, even if it isn't your preference.

She made the meatballs the night before, set her pasta to soak in the pot, and left the house for work. Sadly, things didn't turn out the way she planned.

When she returned home after work, she learned that pasta soaked for a full eight hours turns into a mushy mess. It had disintegrated into nothing more than thick soupy water the color of schoolroom paste.

She went downstairs to the apartment where her mother-in-law lived and told her about the situation.

After her mother-in-law finished laughing, she gave her an unopened box of pasta to make for dinner. "At your age, you didn't know you aren't supposed to soak pasta before you cook it?" she asked.

She would have been better off running to the market than letting her mother-in-law know what had happened. Even making grilled cheese sandwiches would have been a better choice.

Her mother-in-law never forgot about it and talked about it until her death, well into her nineties. "She's so dumb," she'd say. "Do you remember that time she ruined her pasta by soaking it all day?"

Soaking pasta before cooking it is a huge no-no. It will turn your pasta into a mushy mess. If you want al dente pasta, don't soak it beforehand.

Over time, she became an excellent cook, but the story of her cooking blunder still brings a smile to my face. I'm not judging her. My smoke alarm is no stranger to a false alarm. In fact, the first time I cooked a steak, I set it on fire, and I've burned more pans of food than I can count.

Have you ever tried your own food preparation method in the kitchen that had worse than expected results? I'd love to hear about it. Please share in the comments below.

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