It was a genuine thrill to contribute an additional column to the EDP with the accent firmly on food.

You are doubtless aware from my wine column that I am often guilty of approaching missionary work when it comes to food and wine pairing, as I firmly believe that one should not be taken without the other. Standing at a bar slugging back a bottle of wine or wandering the streets chomping on a pork pie has never really been my thing. Our family has long followed the motto that you drink and eat at table. More sociable, more healthy and more rewarding.

I was recently asked to run a tutored tasting of Italian wine at a delightful family restaurant south of Norwich – The Olive Tree. I always try and treat these occasions dutifully and endeavour to get the cuisine and the wine as close and as exciting as my own subjectivity allows.

I had forgotten how simple this is to do with Italian cooking, Olive Tree’s chef and co-owner Raffe, has been working in the kitchen for years. He makes his own bread and his own pasta every day of the week. No shopping, no delivery van, just the bedrock of Italian cooking offered fresh each day from his own hands. In essence a simplicity and honesty that is commonly mirrored in the wines of the various Italian regions we were to try that evening.

My thoughts returned to a visit many years ago to a friend Francesco, with whom we shared a summer house in Emilia Romagna, a vast region in northern Italy stretching from the Adriatic almost to the Mediterranean. This is new pasta country where Francesco’s mother Rosina ruled the kitchen. I remember tentatively asking of Rosina if she could teach me to make spaghetti. Rosina had silently removed a metre square board from its linen bag that hung in the kitchen wall and proceeded to empty the contents of a bag of flour on to it, forming a perfect cone. She made a well in the centre, cracked half a dozen eggs and added water. She was off and running, but as yet she hadn’t responded to my question.

Like a Sumo Wrestler, she pounded this mixture into dough. All the while her tight lips gripped an inexpensive and untipped cigarette, she was later to be nicknamed Vesuvius by our family as she was always covered in ash.

After some twenty minutes of fearsome activity and a succession of cigarettes she looked up. In her broken English and my broken Italian, I had gleaned that Rosina, a life long inhabitant of her tiny rural village Filo, felt the idea that a man should make pasta was a totally inappropriate idea.

To her dying day I never managed to dissuade her of this sexist dogma, but I have great respect for her charming doctrine nevertheless.

I remember that day looking from the window of her kitchen onto the fields of durum wheat surrounding the house, the chickens that wandered in and out of the kitchen at will, and a distant range of farms that displayed the small conical plants laden with plum tomatoes whilst basil and oregano grew in every available discarded olive can. Here was the triumverate of Italian food on our doorstep.

White pasta made from flour and eggs, red tomatoes and green basil. The colours of the flag of Italy. Pasta, always served as a second course known as Il Primivo after the first course (antipasto) and before the main course (Il secondo), was never more tasty or simple than this.

Then, as now, pasta comes in two basic types, dried (pastascuitta) or fresh (fresca), always made with superfine durum wheat and made into more shapes than there are nuns in the square of the Vatican.

The origins are murky, Italians fiercely defending the view that it was the Romans who developed the food whereas argumentative Chinese chefs claim that they originated pasta in the form of noodles and that it was Marco Polo who introduced it to Italy. Notwithstanding, it has been the Italians with whom pasta has been inextricably linked from its origins in the poor south, to its colonisation of Rome and the north by the end of the 14th century.

Dried pasta is still a pale shadow of its freshly made cousin, and I urge you to buy or make fresh whenever possible. We still make our own when time permits but my muscle structure has never been a match for Rosina’s on that educative and embarrassing day.