Tiny Little Stars

by Lisa Scottoline

Column 13: Tiny Little Stars image from Shutterstock

Have you heard the bad news?

They’re discontinuing pastina.

Some of you will know what I’m talking about, and if you do, you might be bursting into spontaneous tears, throwing something against the wall, or letting loose a torrent of extremely creative profanity.

For the rest of you, who are normal, let me explain.

Pastina is a small, star-shaped pasta that I was raised on.

It’s babyfood for Italian-Americans.

Not only that, it’s served throughout your life, whenever you’re having a bad day, it’s cold outside, somebody broke up with you, you got a bad grade, or you find out Bradley Cooper is dating somebody other than you.

It’s also served when you’re having a great day, want a snack while you’re watching a movie, have nothing else to make for dinner, or just need a fix of the best food on the planet.

Pastina is perfect.

You can make it in about five minutes, by dumping some in a saucepan and boiling it, and you don’t worry if you overboil it because you don’t mind if it’s soft.

Nobody expects al dente pastina.

That’s against the pastina ethos.

You can eat it when you’re a baby, and when you don’t have your dentures in.

Its food you can gum.

You serve it in a bowl with butter and salt.

A lot, of each.

It’s cholesterol you eat with a spoon.

Or high blood pressure in a bowl.

With a side of Lipitor, you’re good to go.

You can suck it down.

It’s the easiest-to-eat food in the world.

They could probably make a pastina drip.

I know some people add egg to pastina, but we didn’t.

And some people add cheese, but we didn’t do that, either.

We were pastina purists.

I grew up loving pastina, and I served to Francesca as her first solid food, and she grew up loving it. My best friend Franca loves it too, and she was raised on it as well, and she served to her daughter Jessica who is my godchild, and our bestie lives are so intertwined with pastina that her mom Kippee made pastina for my daughter.

It’s the carbohydrate circle of life.

Ronzoni announced last week that it would no longer be making pastina, not necessarily for lack of demand, but because its supplier couldn’t make it anymore.

I don’t get this.

I’m pretty sure I can make pastina.

How hard can it be?

After all, I gave birth.

Ronzoni said on its Twitter account, “This wasn’t a decision we wanted to make.”

They tried to let us down easy.

I’ve divorced people with less regret.

I’ve thought, “This is a no-brainer.”

I didn’t say it out loud.

I’m not mean, just certain.

And I thought that with Thing One and Thing Two.

I was doubly certain.

Meanwhile Italian-Americans are reacting to the news with outrage.

To be fair, Italian-Americans react to a lot of news with outrage.

It’s part of our charm.

There’s a reason that most great opera is Italian.

Like, we’re an emotional bunch.

And after all, this is the Age of Outrage.

These days we’re all going from cranky to vaguely homicidal over something, and I would suggest that the cure for a bad mood is pastina, but that would only make you madder.

And I’m hoping you can relate.

I wonder if there is some food that’s so much a part of your childhood, identity, and soul that you couldn’t imagine if it didn’t exist anymore.

No?

You might have a healthier relationship with carbs than I do.

Ronzoni said that it had searched for options, but could not find a supplier that would make pastina “in the same beloved small shape, size and standards you have come to expect.”

Reading that, I felt better.

Pastina truly was “beloved.”

My feelings were officially validated by a corporation.

So I’m trying to move on.

RIP.

Rest in Pastina.

Copyright Lisa Scottoline 2023