Fire and nausea: I made Robert Pattinson’s ungodly pasta recipe

By Max Benwell

I

’m only a humble home cook, but I feel like there’s something not quite right with Robert Pattinson’s new pasta recipe. It is called piccolini cuscino (“little pillow”), and was revealed by the actor in a GQ interview this week.

Pattinson goes to great lengths to make piccolini cuscino while talking to the interviewer, burning his hands, setting a latex glove on fire and blowing up his microwave in the process. He even talks about his hopes of it becoming an established fast-food dish one day.

But there’s a catch – the recipe is utterly bizarre, pairing pasta with sliced cheese, inordinate amounts of sugar, and cornflakes. Which makes me wonder: what would happen if I made it?

Braving the outdoors to get the ingredients for piccolini cuscino.
Braving the outdoors to get the ingredients for piccolini cuscino. Photograph: Max Benwell/The Guardian

Ever since this pandemic began one silver lining has been the chance to watch celebrities, footloose and publicist-free, expose how out of touch they are. There have been some iconic moments: Gal Gadot and most of Hollywood singing Imagine; Elon Musk calling the virus “dumb”; Ellen DeGeneres comparing quarantine to prison; Chrissy Teigen saying that recipe writer Alison Roman calling her a sellout made her cry every time she saw a shallot (as one person asked: “How many times a day can you see a shallot?”).

Pattinson – who has supplied GQ photos of himself dressed up in a mix of designer clothes that totaled more than $30,000 – has somehow managed to top them all. But to his credit, the results are much more endearing.

He says he came up with his recipe when trying to think of a way to make pasta have “fast-food credentials”, and even pitched it to the restaurateur Lele Massimini. “I was trying to figure out how to capitalize in this area of the market,” he tells GQ. “And I was trying to think: how do you make a pasta which you can hold in your hand?” It’s a novel idea and, as I’m about to find out, there’s probably a reason for this.

Here’s what Pattinson’s piccolini cuscino includes:

One “filthy” box of cornflakesA lighterNine packs of pre-sliced cheese“Just any sauce”The top half of a bunLots of sugar

Pasta

I’m only on step one of the process he describes, and there’s already a big problem: Pattinson’s recipe demands a type of pasta that doesn’t seem to exist. He describes it as “a sort of squiggly blob” – but not gnocchi – which “looks like a sort of messy … like, the hair bun on a girl”. Somehow, he settles on penne, despite saying it’s “definitely” not penne.

I search for possible answers in my local supermarket’s pasta aisle but nothing matches his description. I seethe into my face mask: “What’s squiggly and blobby?” In the end I settle on something called fusilli corti bucati, which is close enough.

The ingredients for Robert Pattinson’s pasta.
The ingredients for Robert Pattinson’s pasta. Photograph: Max Benwell

I start by putting on my old Carluccio’s apron, a throwback to when I was a terrible waiter there, and figure out how to cook the pasta.

For some reason, Pattinson insists on cooking the pasta in a microwave even though he has a stove. I don’t have a microwave, but inspired by his needlessly chaotic improvisation, I decide to bring a pot of water to boil in my oven.

Inspired by Pattinson, but with a microwave-free kitchen, the water is boiled in the oven
Inspired by Pattinson, but with a microwave-free kitchen, the water is boiled in the oven. Photograph: Max Benwell/The Guardian

While the water is in the oven I start making the “pillow”. According to Pattinson, it all needs to go in a sheet of foil that’s fashioned into a “hollowed-out sphere”, whatever that means. “You really need to congeal everything in an enormous amount of sugar and cheese … it really needs a sugar crust,” he says.

I layer the cheese and cornflakes and pour in a horrible amount of sugar, probably about eight to 10 tablespoons. Then comes the “just any sauce”: I go for a big jar of Sockarooni sauce.

Pouring the ingredients into the foil
Pouring the ingredients into the foil. Photograph: Max Benwell/The Guardian

Meanwhile, the water is taking ages to boil in the oven. After about 30 minutes it finally gets there, but dies out when I pour in the pasta. So I give up and boil it on the stove. Once it’s cooked I pour the pasta into the pillow, and – per the instructions! – sprinkle on some more sugar, then get a bun and sear the initials PC into it with a lighter (for piccolini cuscino). I have no idea why I’m doing this. What other dish has its initials seared onto it?

Searing the bun of Robert Pattinson’s pasta dish, as per the instructions.
Searing the bun of Robert Pattinson’s pasta dish, as per the instructions. Photograph: Max Benwell/The Guardian

After spending 10 minutes in the oven at 400F (204C), my piccolini cuscino is ready to eat. It’s all over the place, so I squish it into a more manageable, hamburger shape and tuck in.

The finished dish
The finished dish. Photograph: Max Benwell/The Guardian

Mamma mia. The first thing that hits you when you eat piccolini cuscino is the sugar. And not just the taste of it, but the crunch. The grains have barely dissolved at all, and why would they? How does Pattinson not mention this? How is he OK with it?

The six slices of cheese have congealed into a semi-melted base. The recipe seems to suggest that you eat piccolini cuscino with the bun on the bottom and sugary, cheesy cornflakes on top. But then why burn PC into the bun on the other side, if that’s going on the bottom where no one can see it?

If there’s one saving grace of the bizarre concoction, it’s that the mix of ingredients can only be so disgusting. It’s almost impossible to ruin pasta, tomato sauce, bread and cheese although, thanks to all the sugar, it comes pretty close. But it’s not as terrible as I thought it would be. It’s edible. I’m able to eat a few mouthfuls.

The dish flipped over, revealing its sugary, cheesy, cornflakey crust
The dish flipped over, revealing its sugary, cheesy, cornflakey crust. Photograph: Max Benwell/The Guardian

This turns out to be a big mistake. I should have just had a bite. About five minutes later I’m slouched on my sofa feeling sick as a parrot, or anyone who has just eaten piccolini cuscino. I start to think about all the sugar and cheese in my stomach. Throwing up may end up being on the menu. Meanwhile, my roommate who had one smallish bite says it’s given her a sugar headache.

It’s all going downhill, and makes me realize why I’ve never seen sugar included in any pasta recipes I’ve ever cooked. Or sliced cheese. Or cornflakes. (Contrary to what Pattinson says, they are not a good substitute for breadcrumbs.)

It all makes me think: is Robert Pattinson OK? How is he this bad at cooking? Is this really what happens to young actors when they become famous? What has he been eating all this time?

Piccolini cuscino is a truly unhinged pasta dish, but perhaps it’s also more than that. What was Gal Gadot singing Imagine, if not her own piccolini cuscino? And perhaps we’ve all had one during lockdown – it may be good to get them out of our systems.

This was fun to make, but I’ve never taken so much pleasure in scraping something into the bin. I’m going to give piccolini cuscino a 2/10.