My story

Photo of Christine CoughlanHello Pasta Lover!
My name is Chris Coughlan. Perhaps you were expecting a Gina or a Francesca or even a Maria? Sorry to disappoint.  I know...it's pretty darn waspy and not at all Italian but hey, (Italian gesture here) what can I say? I simply love pasta. This site is my effort to share that love with you, my fellow pasta lover.

I love fettuccini with rich, creamy alfredo sauce, farfalle with fresh spring vegetables, spaghetti with succulent shrimp, delicate salmon, or briny clams and garlic, hearty, meaty lasagna with rich Bolognese sauce, penne with gooey, messy cheese sauce and simple angle hair with peppery olive oil and garlic. No matter what the season, there always seems to be yet another pasta recipe I want to add to my growing repertoire of pasta dishes.

My obsession for pasta - and all things Italian - started in college when I took a summer semester abroad in Florence, Italy. In traditional Italian style, we were served pasta as a first course at every mid-day meal. Rich tomato sauces, creamy alfredo sauces, fresh pesto, simple seafood and garlic...not a single dish was repeated for the entire program. I had no idea there were so many pasta shapes and sauces!

Back home, a dinner of spaghetti consisted of a large plate of noodles and jarred sauce with some "shaker cheese" on top (you know...the dry stuff in the can). In Italy, the serving sizes were small which made them even more delectable. Just enough to whet your appetite for the rest of the meal without filling you up. It quickly became an addiction.

After the summer program ended, I had an unexpected opportunity to stay on Italy, which I was only too happy to accept. For a little over two years, I worked a variety of jobs as an au pair, English teacher, day laborer on a 15th century villa restoration and housekeeper/cook while learning Italian and surviving on cheap but delicious pasta meals.

With help from my various roomates, and by watching the nonnas (Italian grandmothers) shop the markets, I quickly learned the inexpensive cuts of meat and seafood, which cheeses were affordable and how to select only the freshest produce I would need for that day's dish. As they say...when in Rome, do as the Romans do. OK, it was Florence but you get the picture.

Upon my arrival back home, I tried, usually unsuccessfully, to recreate the dishes I had learned in Italy. The ingredients just couldn't be replicated...and having the right ingredients is absolutely essential to so many pasta dishes. I became obsessed with finding ways to create a tasty American version of the dishes I remembered so fondly.

Fast forward a few years...after a successful career as a visual designer (the reason I went to Italy in the first place), I switched gears to web design and copywriting. I guess it was just a matter of time before I was able to combine my all of my passions in a single project.

My goal, when I started this site, was to take the summer (as a designer, I know setting a deadline is key!) and create a high-value web site that would eventually generate a small, passive income stream to pay for a trip or two to Italy. A modest goal and one that has been a true pleasure to work toward. This site is the result. While it's still in its infancy - with a lot of work yet to do - I have to say it has been a joy to research, plan, build and grow this pasta web site.

I hope you find the site valuable, useful, perhaps even entertaining. I'd love to hear from you about your pasta adventures in Italy or at home, learn which recipes you like best, what tips and techniques work for you and feedback on the how-to videos. Together, we can make this a fabulous community resource for pasta lovers everywhere!

Thanks for taking the time to read my story. Here's to your pasta success!

Buon Appetito!
Chris
P.S. In addition to publishing this site, I am also an avid rower, coxswain and coach for my local rowing club. As an athlete and coach, I am constantly seeking the latest updates on pre and post-race nutrition as well as nutrient-packed pasta recipes that I can add to my repertoire. I've added a number of fitness-related articles to the site that I hope you find useful. To your health!

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4 Comments

  1. Susan

    Hello Chris!
    You are my inspiration, I am an up coming pasta cook booker and I am looking to you for some helpful tips! For instance how do you get your sauce to be less watery? or how do you which cheeses to pair with which sauce? I would greatly appreciate a reply back!
    Thanks so much!
    Susan

    • Christine Coughlan

      Hi Susan,
      Thanks for your nice note. The secret to a velvety sauce is to use a little bit of the pasta cooking water and toss the hot pasta with the sauce IN the pan! The pasta water has a lot of starch in it which adds a smooth, rich texture to the sauce. As for cheese, start with REAL Parmesan and then simply experiment. Pecorino Romano, for example, has nice, sharp bite to it. Brie is wonderful for creating a smooth but very rich sauce. Gorgonzola adds a delicious tang. (A little goes a long way!) Marscapone is creamy and light and wonderful with wild mushrooms and other delicate flavors. A good gourmet cheese shop will let you taste samples to learn more before you buy. Ask their advice as they really know cheese. Then have fun with it! Good luck with your cookbook! Let me know when it's published.
      Chris

  2. Patty

    Hi Chris:
    I am a fellow MMWer from AWAI. I'm curious...how did you get permission to use the video clips you have here? That's brilliant! I'd love to see if I could do it for my niche site.

    Thanks,
    Patty

    • Christine Coughlan

      Hi Patty,
      Sorry it took me so long to reply. We moved in early July and I haven't been checking the site. I use videos that are from YouTube that have a "share" option. YouTube is all about sharing content. That's why people put their videos up there for sharing. When you share someone's video, your readers can click the video to visit the original website so the exposure works for everyone. If you find a video that you want to use on another site, look below it for a YouTube icon and click that. It will take you to the same video on the YouTube site where you should be able to "share" the video in a size that works for you on your site. Good luck!

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