“What is the glory of Dante compared to spaghetti?”
– Giuseppe Prezzolini, journalist
Lasagna is an example of a flat pasta.
Tortellini and ravioli lead the brigade of stuffed pastas known as pasta ripiena which also include tortelli, cappelletti and cannelloni.
Gnocchi, though they may come across as stuffed pastas are considered dumplings and normally prepared as such.
But it isn’t only stuffed pastas that have the benefit of extra ingredients. The colours that brighten up ordinary pasta come by way of the addition of tomatoes, spinach, beets, red pepper and even squid ink in the case of the eye catching black pastas.
Where does the story of pasta begin? Much has been said of the Venetian explorer Marco Polo bringing its secret over from China in the 12th Century. Others protest it’s home grown – Bologna is seen as its birthplace. Whatever the facts, Italy certainly takes credit for elevating durum (the same wheat used in the preparation of upma) into an art form. Specifically, the pasta tradition was born in Southern Italy, a region particularly suited to the growth of durum wheat.
Here it went on to rule dining habits, even substituting bread, centuries before it could spread its charms in the North of the country.
The many amazing shapes of pasta suggest a listing as wide as the imagination allows. But the broadest categorisation divides pasta into fresh (pasta fresca) and dried (pasta secca). Dried pasta, which is mostly made from nothing more than durum wheat and water tends to retain a pronounced sturdiness after cooking and keeps for months. Fresh pasta, distinctly more delicate than dried pasta, is mostly handmade and combines white flour (not durum) and eggs.