The juxtaposition of this post and the one before borders on the offensive but it's time for some comfort food and that means pasta.

Waiter, why is my pasta shaped like a radiator?

Gigli - Lilies
This Italian pasta consists of flower shapes.
It's good with hearty, chunky sauces.

Fusilli - spring
A good choice for pasta salads and casseroles or thick, hearty sauces

Farfalle - butterfly
This Italian pasta resembles bow ties or butterflies.
It's often served with chunky sauces or in pasta salads.

Radiatori - radiator
These resemble small radiators.
The "grills" do a good job of scooping up chunky sauces.

Creste di galli - cockscomb
Good for chunky sauces and salads

A flow chart about all the different pastas and their names:

What kind of pasta is on my plate?
(click on it for a larger version you can actually read)

Here's a cool thing about pasta you may not know: The different pasta shapes are not meaningless. There isn't a shady organization of pasta designers trying to trick people into buying arbitrarily shaped pastas for no reason. Different pasta shapes serve different functions.

Some are good for soups and broths. Angel hair is better for thinner, delicate sauces, and spaghetti is better for thicker sauces. Fusilli (the twisty kind) is good with any sauce, but cavatelli (the little hot dog bun kind) is best with thick, chunky sauces. Hundreds of years ago, ancient pasta architects used science and alchemy to come up with the noodle designs that were most conducive to catching and storing different sauces, because they want you, the eater, to have the best experience possible.

I like my pasta thin if it's paired with a marinara sauce. Or stir fried with veggies. Capellini d'angelo which I think means angel hair is the thinnest I can find around here. I like orzo, or rice shaped pasta, for salads like Greek Pasta Salad because I'm not a huge fan of Uncle Ben's white rice. I like fusilli with heavier meat and tomato sauces.

I hate penne noodles. I know pasta shapes are all made with the same dough but the thicker the noodle, the less I like it and penne is served everywhere. Yuk.

Pasta cooking myth: Add oil to the water to prevent it from sticking.

You know what happens when you add oil to pasta water? The pasta, regardless of the shape, will be so slippery that it will no longer absorb your sauce. After all of the work that those diligent pasta magicians went through, you ruin all of it by pouring oil all over your pasta, and it won't even keep the pasta from sticking together.

This post was cobbled together with plagarized borrowed exerpts from the site I got the pasta pics from which is here, where they list nine popular food myths most people believe, and What kind of pasta is on your plate? by Charming Italy.



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