Italy Today

In praise of Italian pasta

The art of combining flavours, shapes and sauces

In praise of Italian pasta

Claudia Astarita

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"That Italians love their pasta is no news", argued The Guardian in a recent article dedicated to Italians' food habits. However, as the bBritish daily recognizes, now many people are aware than even with pasta, "regional differences are strong and vibrantly alive" in Italy. Indeed, "variations arise not just from north to south but also from town to town, from kitchen to kitchen, either in the composition of the dough or, even more, in the sauce dressing the noodles".

To better undestrand the universe of Italian pasta, The Guardian offers a couple of interesting tips:

1) Distinguishing between different kinds of diried pasta. Dried pasta is made with durum wheat and water. Its production started around Gragnano in Campania, and its best versions are the ones described as trafilata al bronzo (bronze-die) and pura semola di grano duro (pure durum wheat semolina).

2) There is a regional difference in fresh egg-based and water-and flour-based pasta consumption. "Traditionally, pasta made with plain wheat flour hydrated with eggs is common in northern regions such as Piedmont, Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia Romagna. In contrast, characteristic fresh pasta shapes made with just water and flour can be found in Liguria, Tuscany, Umbria, Basilicata and Puglia".

3) Do noy underestimate the importance of matching pasta and sauces. "Ragù alla bolognese is only ladled on to porous ribbons of egg pasta (such as tagliatelle), while clams are tossed with spaghetti or linguine but never penne".

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