Somehow, kneading a few easy ingredients melts away a world of worry and stress.
Some people do yoga. Others get massages. Others just show up on the couch for their weekly appointments with their shrinks. But according to chef Pietro Zito, from Puglia, Italy, the best meditation is making pasta. He says you simply need to sink your hands into a mound of semolina flour, water, and salt to make orecchiette ("little ears," in Italian) and you'll regain your equilibrium. Truer words have never been translated, I found out recently, when I was having a particularly tough week. Sitting at my desk and feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, I kept flashing back to Zito's demonstration at New York City's International Culinary Center of how to make these small disks, which, he said, are known as pasta of the poor in Puglia. As if drawn by a magnet, I soon found myself standing at the kitchen counter, tinkering with the dough (I swapped in some all-purpose flour for some of the semolina) and kneading, rolling, scraping, and shaping my stress away. Let someone else do pigeon pose or yak at their shrink. I'll untrouble myself by making orecchiette -- which are, after all, all ears.