Pasta, an Italian Obsession

Pasta, an Italian Obsession

Jul 08, 2020Donatella Mulvoni

Ok, we know what you are thinking: Italians are obsessed with pasta. That’s absolutely true! Every Italian eats almost 60 pounds of pasta per year…way too much! Pasta is the common thread in each of Italy's 20 regions. Here you find a beginner’s guide to Italians’ favorite food.



It is our staple food, a cultural heritage! The name comes from the “pasty” texture of the dough made with water, flour and salt. The pasta can be fresca (fresh) or secca (dry). Fresh pasta is made with or without eggs and can be homemade and eaten right away. Usually fresh stuffed pasta is made for special occasions. For example, Sunday lunch with the whole family. Dry pasta is more common and is factory-made. It is made with 100% durum semolina flour. Both kinds of pastas are prepared by cooking them in boiling water with a pinch of salt.



We love pasta in every shape and size! There are almost 350 different shapes and sizes of pasta! Any shape might be used with a vast range of sauces and their regional variations. What pasta shapes do Italians love most? Spaghetti (literally little strings) is the unquestionable “re della pasta” (the king of pasta). Do you remember what Sophia Loren famously said? “Everything you see I owe to spaghetti!”. Dry pasta can be corta (short), lunga (long) or pastina (minute). The top five of short pastas are penne, paccheri, rigatoni, fusilli, and farfalle. Among the long pastas, the most popular are linguine, spaghetti, bucatini, capellini, and mafalde. Remember, the finest pasta is traditionally extruded through bronze dies. You could also find weird and obscure shapes! The tiny shapes of pastina are perfect for soups and broths. Acini, ditali, orzo, anellini are among the most popular.



Produced rigorously by hand, fresh and filled pastas are associated to local traditions. From North to South, each of Italy’s regions has its own variation of fresh pasta. The most popular fresh pastas are tagliatelle (Emilia Romagna), tagliolini (Piemonte), orecchiette (Puglia), fusilli (Campania), and fettuccine (Lazio). Filled pastas (we call it “pasta ripiena”) are rigorously handmade. They can be filled with meat, cured meats, cheese and even fish. The filling is often seasonal. Here you find the top 5 filled pastas: ravioli, tortellini, tortelli, lasagna, and cannelloni.



Remember, overcooking pasta is like a crime in Italy. The 11th Commandment: Thy pasta shall be prepared al dente! Literally meaning, “to the tooth,” all dente pasta’s texture should be firm to the bite but not crunchy. Also, the original shape should hold. Depending on shape and specific type, cooking times vary. The good news is that al dente pasta is also easier to digest! Pasta secca needs more time to cook, pasta fresca could take less than 5 minutes: always read the label!



Carb lovers, are you ready for World Pasta Day? Let’s celebrate on October 25th! The US, instead, pays tribute to National Pasta Day on October 17th. Magnifico offers a spectacular pasta selection! Try our Pasta Cuomo produced by a family run pasta factory in Gragnano, the small “kingdom of pasta” in the province of Naples, renowned worldwide for its air-dried, bronze-extruded pasta.

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