Fresh pasta and ravioli

Pasta dough
Eggs, 6
Water, 6 1/2 eggshells
Flour, 4 cups
Semolina, 2 cups

Cheese filling for ravioli
Ricotta, 1 lb
Mozzarella, grated, 1 cup
Pecorino romano or parmigiano-reggiano, grated, 1/3 cup
Eggs, 2
Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, finely chopped, 2 tbsp
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Beat eggs and water.
2. Mix in flour and semolina.
3. Knead into stiff dough.
4. Shape as desired. Using a pasta machine is of course optional but very helpful for some shapes. (I highly recommend The Geometry of Pasta if you need ideas.)
5. Mix filling ingredients if making ravioli. You have several shape options for ravioli; regardless you'll need a little egg yolk to seal the edges. I recommend using a smaller amount of filling that you think is appropriate; we tend to overestimate and then the ravioli will burst while cooking.
6. Allow to dry overnight before cooking.

The story: 
This recipe came from my great-grandmother Maria ("tiny, five feet tall, always wearing an apron," says my mom), handed down to my grandmother Ida 
My great-grandparents, Battista and Maria,
celebrating their anniversary, c. 1950s
and my great-aunt Olympia, always known as Beaba or Bea, because she was the baby of the family, the youngest of five girls and one boy. Aunt Bea taught it to me during my year "off" between college and medical school (when I wasn't reading Kierkegaard and
stirring chocolate into my espresso in Danish cafés). A few weeks after a marathon ravioli-making session together (using this dough), I set out to do it myself for the guy I was dating and his roommates...in a house that was truly an unholy disaster (and lacked air-conditioning, in July, to boot), on a rickety folding card table, using a wine bottle as a rolling pin (handy!). 

Aunt Bea is the first girl on the left, c. late 1930s
My grandmother and Aunt Bea always made homemade pasta for Christmas, served with sauce, meatballs, sausage, beef and tender slow-cooked pork. They started with zuppa (soup), then antipasti (including fennel dipped in olive oil, salt and pepper), then the pasta, then capons with potatoes, corn and peas, stuffed artichokes and finally fruit and nuts. By the time I was a child, the argument about whether soup or antipasti should be served first was itself a part of the tradition at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Aunt Bea and my godmother
Christmas Eve 2008
Aunt Bea passed away in November 2011 at the age of 91, the last of her generation in our family. For many, many years before she died, starting when I left for college in 1998, she would slip a ten-dollar bill in my hand and say, "buy yourself a cup of coffee." I always laughed that people her age were supposed to be out of touch and believe that coffee only cost ten cents, but she was prophetic. Last year, I ordered a large Rainy Day latte (cinnamon, hazelnut, caramel and vanilla) with almond milk, whipped cream and an extra shot of espresso at Under the Umbrella, and the bill came to $8 (it was my birthday...month)!

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