Italian pasta

A quick primer on pasta in Italy

Aside from pizza, pasta is probably Italy’s best-known export. It comes in two basic forms: pastasciutta(dry pasta), the kind most of us buy at the grocery store, and pasta fresca (fresh pasta), the kind that most self-respecting establishments in Italy, even those of the most humble ilk, will probably serve.

Pastasciutta comes in long strands including spaghetti, linguine, trenette; and in tubular maccheroni (macaroni) forms such as penne (pointed pasta quills) or rigatoni (fluted tubes), to name only a few.

Pasta fresca is made in broad sheets, then cut into shapes used in lasagna, cannelloni, and the stuffed pastas tortelloni and ravioli or into noodles ranging from wide papparedelle to narrow fettuccine.

If you sense that this isn’t even a dent in the world of pasta, you’re right: There are more than 600 pasta shapes in Italy.

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