|‘Pasta King’ keeps making delicious history
Arturo Ibleto to be big part of RP 50th anniversary
On Sunday, May 20, from 4-8 p.m., the Rohnert Park 50th Committee will host a “Pasta Feed” fundraiser at the Rohnert Park Community Center featuring the Rohnert Park Community Band. Arturo Ibleto, aka Pasta King, is contributing a free pasta dinner for all, as he has done so often for local organizations.
Ibleto made a pasta dinner for the first fundraiser in Rohnert Park 50 years ago. He has spoken many times about how when he gives, he receives back twofold, but sometimes folks don’t understand the story behind why his giving focuses mostly on cuisine. It could be his belief ,“food brings all people together, no matter political party, age, gender, or race.” And of course, being a native of Sesta Godano, Italy, he grew up where the growing and harvesting of food, as well as cooking, was a big part of family and community life.
But perhaps a deeper motivation for the focus on food is that Ibleto has definitely experienced the lack of it. During World War II, he became a “Partisan” or freedom fighter against Mussolini’s troops and later Nazi forces. He hid in the hills above his town, and had to travel light, hoping for ration drops from Allied planes, or the generosity of local farmers who were brave enough to risk retribution if caught aiding these guerilla fighters.
Even his own brother, Angelo, now known for his famous sausages and salsas, helped out by bringing food to Ibleto’s hiding places. As young as 10 at the time, Angelo knew to take care to cover his tracks in the snow between trips, lest the enemy might catch on to the current place of refuge.
And at least once during the war, Arturo faced possible starvation. Caught off guard while making a quick visit home, he had to run and hide in a temporary hole he had made for such emergencies. It was near a tree, and he covered himself with boards and leaves just as Nazi troops entered the town. Unfortunately, they decided to stay and rest awhile, living off the pantries of any house they chose to raid.
Their stay was more than a week, and within five feet of Ibleto’s hole. With no food or water, he tried to ignore hunger pangs by sleeping, yet feared making noise in the night might attract the enemy’s attention. He shivered in light clothing and ached from cramped muscles that could not stretch out. He fell into a delirium, often dreaming of some of the warm, tasty food his mother, Maria, made in her kitchen. He remembered the Sunday dinners, where she would roll out the pasta, then allow each child to cut strips according to their wishes, and then toss them into a steaming kettle of water. The thinner the cut, the more the pasta absorbed her delicious, savory sauces. Oh, how he longed for just a bite of her homemade bread, with some of the basil pesto that made their Cinqueterre region famous.
He nevertheless survived the ordeal, and came out days later not only thinner and thirsty, but wobbling on “spaghetti legs.” He continued fighting until the end of the war and Allied victory, and was extremely grateful he and his family had survived.
When he came to Sonoma County in 1950, Ibleto realized he had a wonderful opportunity to share his love of food in this area that grew so many delicious things. He could not only grow produce, but even expanded into pinot noir and chardonnay grapes for many award-winning wines.
His food donations have become an expression of gratitude for overcoming his ordeals, as well as his ability to make a good life despite many hardships. He is especially grateful for all of the wonderful lifelong friends he has made along the way, and this is his way of expressing that appreciation.
It is a good lesson for all of the Rohnert Park community to learn and replicate in their own way, and has been adopted by the R.P. 50th Committee and the many volunteers and donors who are giving money and time to this historic event.
Seating at the center is limited, and those admitted will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors will open at 4 p.m., and the one-hour concert will start at 4:30 p.m. under the direction of Gary Young.
The dinner will be offered to the public by donation, and all will have the opportunity to participate in a raffle offering numerous prizes. Donations are not only welcomed but encouraged.
All proceeds will be designated for the September 15, 2012 celebration of Rohnert Park's 50th anniversary of incorporation. A parade is planned, and many of the activities will take place on the grounds of the Rohnert Park Community Center.