Facts about pasta: you don’t have to be Italian to know about pasta. But, do you know how many types and styles of pasta there are in Italy? In the typical American grocery store, you would probably find 14 types/styles available. If you go into an Italian specialty store – you might find another five or so types and styles.
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Hold onto your socks because in Italy there are approximately 350 types/styles available.! Really! If you go to Italy and visit a grocery store like a Conad, Punto, or Aldi you will see pasta you never knew existed.
The first time Ilene and I walked through a grocery store in Italy, we were surprised by the small selection of everyday foods like cereal, milk, bread, etc. But… the moment we arrived at the pasta aisle – it was amazing to see the various colorful boxes and bags with various types and shapes available to us. Literally, we could have spent an entire day just looking at the various offerings lined up on the shelves in front of us. Oh, and this aisle is usually two aisles – not one. I saw shapes I never knew existed or could have imagined and I have a pretty good imagination.
History Facts About Pasta
An interesting fact about pasta is that it was thought to be an Asian invention brought to Italy by Marco Polo in the 13th century. What he actually brought to Italy was a thin-type noodle. Our Italian ancestors invented what we have available to us today. Pasta is primarily made from durum wheat (semolina) mixed with egg or just water depending on the type you want to make. In 1865, Giovanni Battista Capurro invented Italy’s favorite pasta – penne! The most popular brand of dried pasta in Italy is Pasta Barilla. Some of the other well-known brands in Italy are DeCecco, Di Martino, Felicetti, Garofalo, and Il Pastaio di Gragnano.
If you are like me, you probably wonder how much pasta Italians consume. Most Italians eat it every day in one form or another with an average serving size of 100 grams or 3 ½ ounces. I’ll bet your next question is… How can Italians be so thin eating that much? Well, they also eat healthy fats, fresh produce, and small amounts of pasta. This diet is one of the reasons Italy is considered the healthiest country in the world.
The national pasta dish in Italy is Ragù alla Bolognese which is a meat sauce with very little tomato sauce and tagliatelle. Right about now, my mouth is starting to water so I’ll be taking a short break while I make a little Bolognese. It’s important to note, fresh pasta is better for your health. It tastes so much better than dried, too. Believe it or not, fresh is very easy to make and you don’t need any special utensils to make good fresh pasta.
Facts About Pasta: Types and Styles
Here is a list of just a few of the 350 types and styles available today:
- Long cut length: spaghetti, bucatini, linguine, pappardelle, tagDiliatelle, and vermicelli
- Short cut length: cavatelli, penne, fusilli, farfalle, and rigatoni
- Stretched: orecchiette, corzetti, and fanelie
- For soup: pastina, piombi, and ditalini
- For filling: cannelloni, ravioli, tortelli and tortellini
- Others: gnocchi, canderli and gnocchetti
Did You Know?
In the first days of the COVID pandemic in Italy, the only shape of pasta remaining on shelves of almost every grocery store was penne lisce! Penne lisce is the “smooth” pasta whereas penne rigate means “ridged.” Italians most definitely prefer ridges!
So the next time you go to your grocery store, take a stroll down the pasta aisle and notice how many different types they offer. When and if you are in Italy – stroll through a supermarket and I’ll bet you will be amazed at how many different shapes, types, and flavors you’ll see there. So many pasta so little time. Enjoy.
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