A food made from a combination of flour and water, having different shapes or fillings, exists for centuries now and is the best-selling product in the hole world.
Nobody knows where paste-like food was first made. There are severe theories related with China, the Roman Empire, Greece, Arabia ... However, it can be said for sure that a mixture of water and flour called “Maccaruni”, cooked in a salt water and served with sauce, is truly Italian food.
Regular Italian eats 30 kilograms of pasta in a year. For every 6 out of 10 Italians, pasta is a daily dish. After reading these statistics, it is not surprising at all that there are up to 350 types of pasta. The most common of these are, you may guess, spaghetti - a thin, long, cylindrical paste, most frequently served with tomato sauce.
There are two types of pasta - raw and dried.
Raw pasta is made from finely ground, relatively soft flour – 00. This flour is characterized by low gluten content, although it is often mixed with other types of flour to get a different effect.
Dried pasta is made from a special wheat - semolina, known as a solid type of wheat. It is rich in gluten. This is a pasta that you will find on store shelves.
Both types of pasta can be prepared with or without eggs, however pasta intended for drying is less common with eggs.
The main challenge when preparing pasta is the combination of pasta types and sauces. Some sauces fit well only to raw pasta, others to drier ones, some to long pasta, and some even shorter ones. Pasta forms, sauces and combinations vary by regions.
What to consider when mixing pasta and sauce:
Long and rounded pastas such as spaghetti, capellini, spaghettini are paired with relatively light sauces such as tomato, olive oil and garlic so that the pasta maintains lightness and is comfortable to eat. Chopped herbs, grilled pancetta, grated cheese or chopped tomatoes are generally added to it.
Flat and long pasta types, such as fettuccine, linguine, tagliatelle, pappardelle, are paired with sauces with a more creamy texture, as well as meat sauces. For example, the well-known sauce Bolognese is specially made for Tagliatelle and not for spaghetti. This would be a big mistake that an Italian, especially Bolognian, would not forgive.
Short varieties such as penne, rigatoni, ziti are suitable for soups, pasta salads or casseroles. Farfalle, fusilli, conchiglie suit well relatively rich sauces, because of their structural shape.
Short and pierced pastas, such as macaroni and ditalini, are ideal for oven-baked, cheese sauces, as well as in salads and soups.