*The Scallion is writer Max Weinberg’s version of the popular The Onion.
I love making pasta, more specifically spaghetti. Now there’s really only one correct way to make pasta. You have to use a cauldron sized pot filled to the brim with water. Yes, that will force it to inevitably boil over, but don’t worry we’ll get to that. Large amounts of salt poured from the cardboard canister that refills the shaker is important. You want that spaghetti to taste as if it was cooked in the ocean; it helps give it that briny charm that people love so much. Then you boil it until someone could eat the pasta even if they don’t any have teeth.
This wondrous recipe for making pasta does have a few downsides, like the gigantic mess it makes on the stove. Filling the water so high, of course, makes it boil over repeatedly during the twenty or so minutes that it cooks. Large amounts of salt also infuriates the boiling water to new heights. Turning down the heat to avoid the mess would make the pasta take much longer to cook. Usually, I just let the water simmer over the top and hiss repeatedly while it sizzles on the burner. It’s just water; it can’t start a fire . . . I hope.
Sometimes I use a tool I like to refer to as “the masher.” Which I would assume is involved in making mashed potatoes because I cannot imagine what else it could possibly be used for other than some sick form of revenge on various parts of the anatomy.
As the water level gets higher it usually turns to foam, which if I can mash it down with this tool it keeps the water in its place and without a mess. But this requires constant attention and sticking my hand into the large pot and that also means getting splattered with boiling water. Not to mention the added pain from adding oil to the pot to avoid sticking.
But a solution has been discovered. While taking my morning trip to the urinal in East Hall, I watched as I was not splattered. I focused on the large purple strip of plastic whose name I did not know. I am of course familiar with the urinal cake, but the name of this godsend eluded me. After some research, I found out it’s called a urinal screen. I watched as it accepted the urine but as the foam tried to rise higher it was captured by the screen. Whoever invented this is a pure genius. We have to get them working on how to reheat fries without them tasting like garbage. I bet the secret involves urine somehow, but if that’s what it takes I’m fine with that trade-off. Life is all about sacrifices.
It occurred to me that this urinal screen could also be used when making pasta. You could place a large one over the top of the pot and it would keep the high rising foam down and elimanate overflowing. Or you could put a smaller one inside the pot, but I worry about boiling something made of plastic with your food. There are obvious sanitary situations to think about. It might not be wise to use one that has already been soaked in urine (although it is in boiling water so I think that kind of sanitizes whatever you put in it). It’s like drinking a glass of penicillin. Plus you dump all of the pasta water out anyways and you could always just not eat the spaghetti that touches the urinal screen. Problem solved!