Right around when I started sprinkling granulated sugar over four Kraft American singles, I thought to myself, “There’s no way this isn’t a bit.”
The moment I started reading Robert Pattinson’s viral pasta recipe, as told (in wonderful, hilarious detail) to GQ, I knew that I had to try it. Later that night, I would inevitably wander to the grocery store, snatch up some sandwich buns and cheese slices and cornflakes, build a tin foil “bowl,” and attempt what Pattinson has affectionately named the “Piccolini Cuscino.” Little pillow. A shell of congealed sugar and cheese and crushed cornflakes, encasing a trough of penne and “red” sauce, with a singed bun on top. A viral culinary nightmare.
Perched over my laptop on my bed like the goddess of narcissism, Carrie Bradshaw, as I resolved to make this curious “delicacy” later that night, I couldn’t help but wonder: Is this a cry for attention... or a cry for help?
The actual recipe for Robert Pattinson’s pasta atrocity is relatively straightforward: Cook penne in the microwave. Meanwhile, build a makeshift bowl out of tin foil. Coat it in breadcrumbs or crushed cornflakes. (“That’s basically the same shit,” Chef Pattinson says.) Coat with sugar. Add a layer of cheese. More sugar. Cheese. More sugar. Cheese. Then add the “red” sauce. I used Bertolli because it was there—and that, above all, felt like the ethos of this recipe. Next, add the cooked pasta. (The profile did not specify whether to drain the pasta or mix it with the sauce, but I assumed that’s the journey Robert Pattinson would want for me.) Then burn the letters “P.C.” into a hollowed-out sandwich bun. Pattinson apparently used a giant novelty lighter during his GQ interview; I used a miniature cigarette lighter, which took an alarming amount of time to char the bun. Then squish the bun on top of your Chicago-style-pizza-looking Frankenstein’s monster, wrap it all in foil while squashing it all together, and bake. (In a futile effort to make this dish maybe edible, I left a little vent in my foil pocket to allow steam to escape.) Pattinson tried to cook his concoction in a microwave, which he thought was an oven, which exploded. I opted for an actual oven, baking it at 400 degrees for, like, 20 minutes. As I told a friend on Instagram, “i am waiting until it... feels right to take it out?!?!”
GQ writer Zach Baron’s profile of Pattinson is masterful. From the first few words until the very end, it all sounds so right. Of course Robert Pattinson has always had a strange relationship with time and reclusiveness. Of course he eats tuna from a can with a squirt of tabasco sauce on top! And yes, of course he would blow up his microwave while trying to revolutionize the fast food industry. The profile offers an inside glimpse at one of the most fascinating actors of a generation—hinting at uncharted depths while also confirming an off-kilter persona we feel we already know. But Baron warns that this could all be an illusion. “I wish I could tell you whether what I’m about to describe here is a bit, or a piece of performance art, or is in fact sincere—even now, I don’t totally know,” he writes. “I think parts of it are real and parts of it can’t be real.”
That’s always the thing with Pattinson—an actor who, more than anything, knows how to amuse the public by blurring the lines between reality, jokes, and complete fabrications. Remember the time he blatantly lied on the Today show, shocking Matt Lauer with a horrifying story about dead clowns? Remember how it was actually hilarious—and only even more so soon afterward, when he copped to having made it all up? Did he really ever bore his own stalker in Spain? Was he just trying to make Jimmy Kimmel blush when he said he loves being spit on during sex? With every public interaction, Pattinson solidifies this persona—one that would feel like aggressive candor if he weren’t so blatantly fucking with us.
Pattinson’s aspiration to break into fast food with handheld pasta snacks seems like another hoax from a guy who refuses to take exercises in Hollywood puffery seriously. If it’s all a bit, it would have required at least a little pre-planning; Los Angeles restaurant magnate Lele Massimini confirmed to GQ that Pattinson had approached him with the pasta idea in the past. But if I learned one thing from making The Pasta, it’s that it simply has to be a bit.
Like I said—you realize it somewhere around the cheese-and-sugar layering process. Staring into the bowl, I thought, there’s no way this sugar will caramelize enough to solidify a bunch of waxy cheese, especially with steaming pasta on top. It will be mush. It will be sugary mush.
There’s no way this isn’t a bit.
But then again, I had to have known that all along. I cook enough to know, on principal, that none of this was legit. And yet, as I joked around on Instagram and popped this thing into my oven, I have to admit part of me wanted to believe!
Here’s the thing about The Robert Pattinson Pasta: It doesn’t matter if it’s a bit. It’s a call to stop taking ourselves so seriously. It’s a cheap, amusing way to kill an hour while quarantining under surreal circumstances. And if you’re wondering how it tastes, yes, obviously, it is terrible. The cornflakes get soggy and sweet beneath a saccharine blob of curdled orange wax and the noodles taste like metal and the bun just kind of rests on top of it all like a soppy beached whale. All of that said: I’ve had worse.