How to Cook Tortellini... Or Not

Part of the fun of writing Julia's Child was to meet and talk to a lot of small foodie business owners. I love small food producers, and I go out of my way to buy their goods.  Putney Pasta is the perfect example. Putney, VT (as well as their current headquarters in Brattleboro) are close to my home.  

Not only is their product local to me, but it's also terrific. Their three cheese tortellini runs in heavy rotation on our menu at home. (Add broccoli, garlic, parmesan... eat.) But one instruction on their packaging was mysterious to me. So I decided to write them a little letter about it. Here goes:

Dear Putney Pasta,

I love your products, especially the 3 Cheese Ravioli (because I am a purist).  I love that yours is a Vermont company, and that the ingredients list is squeaky clean.  But... (there's always a but, isn't there?) the instructions are a real puzzle to me.  They specify cooking the tortellini for at least 3 minutes, to an internal temperature of 165 degrees. 

Really?  Do you actually have an instant read thermometer small enough and quick enough to take a tortellini's temperature?  Do people do this?  I have owned several different kitchen thermometers over the years--digital ones, dial thermometers, even one on a long cord so that the reading end could be inside the oven and the business end out.  And none of them ever seemed very accurate, even in a 3 pound roast.  Perhaps I just have very bad luck.

Just curious,


And of course, being a wonderful little small company, they wrote me back:

Hi Sarah;

I appreciate your concern and frustration. I 100% agree..but this is a statement that is put on our label (and that of many companies) to appease the legal powers that be. I’m sure you are cooking our product as you should.



Huh.  Yet another incidence of lawyers rewriting something until it makes no sense at all.  There's a joke in there somewhere: how many lawyers does it take to boil a tortellini?  Or something.  Carry on, then.