The Many Types of Dried Pasta: Ribbon/String-like Pasta

Spaghetti

“Little strings” is the literal translation of Spaghetti. These pasta noodles are long and thin strands. The word spaghetti is plural for “spaghetto” which is the Italian word for one piece of the pasta. “Spaghetto” literally means “twine” or “thin string” Spaghetti is quite popular and can be found just about anywhere in the world.

Vermicelli

When eating this pasta, try not to think about it, but its name literally means “little worms” in Italian. It is long and round and thinner than spaghetti. There is a version that is thicker and called Vermicelloni but is it still thinner than spaghetti and it is harder to find.

Capellini

This long and round pasta is thinner than spaghetti and vermicelli and its name literally means “thin hair.” In fact, you may have more commonly heard of this pasta referred to as Angel Hair pasta.

Fettuccine

The name of this pasta literally means “little ribbons” in Italian and it looks like just that. Fettuccine is made from flour and eggs and it is a thick, very flat noodle. In authentic Italian dishes, fettuccine is often made fresh. You can find it dried in your local grocery store and the dish made with this pasta that is most common in fettuccine alfredo.

Linguine

This long strand of pasta is thin and flat, like a cross between spaghetti and fettucine. In Italian, linguine literally means “little tongues.” A popular dish with this pasta is linguine and clams, or linguine al vongole

Pasta Skeleton

Halloween Skeleton Made of Pasta

Uses: This can be a fun Halloween project to decorate with or it can be a great educational activity to learn about the different bones in the body.

Materials:

  • various types of dried pasta (spaghetti, macaroni, penne, rotini, wagon wheels, shells, etc.)
  • construction paper
  • glue
  • crayons
  • pencil

Procedure/What to do:

  • Draw a stick figure of a person on the paper just so you have the size of skeleton that you want.
  • Arrange the various types of dried pasta on the skeleton outline. Do not use glue yet so that you can change the pieces around if you wish to do so.
  • Once like how your pieces look, glue them into place.
  • If you are doing this as an educational activity, use the crayons to label specific bone structures of the body.

Tip: If you want a ready-made outline of a skeleton to follow, click here http://www.enchantedlearning.com/subjects/anatomy/skeleton/


 

Pasta Trivia

Trivia: Is spaghetto the singular of spaghetti?

There are over 600 different shapes of pasta in the world…
…and other bits and pieces of Pasta Trivia…

  • Mark your calendar – October 25th is World Pasta Day!
  • The Pope laid out standards for the quality of pasta in the 13th century.
  • It has been said that pasta was brought to the United States by Thomas Jefferson after he tasted a pasta dish while in France and loved it. When he returned to the United States he apparently ordered macaroni by the crate and bought himself a pasta making machine.
  • Spaghetto is the singular form of spaghetti. Pasta literally means paste in the Italian language. So if you are eating just one piece you can say, “I am eating a spaghetto.” Actually, the use of spaghetto is quite rare because the plural spaghetti is accepted as a singular form (much as graffiti and zucchini) of speech.
  • Gravy is not just a brown, meat based sauce to throw on beef, pork, or poultry. It is also a term sometimes used by Italians for a tomato sauce that is prepared by simmering it for a long time.
  • For the most part, Americans are the only people who use a fork with a spoon to twirl and eat their spaghetti. Most other cultures simply use a fork and twirl it against the dish.
  • The British Broadcasting Corporation made everyone believe that spaghetti grows on trees…in 1957…On April Fools Day!
  • Spaghetti isn’t just a food! The word spaghetti is also used in computer programming for a kind of complicated control structure.
  • Spaghetti junction is a term used to refer to roads or on/off ramps that are twisted and intertwined, like a plate of spaghetti.
  • Meatballs were invented in America, not Italy. Italians in Italy didn’t eat meat often but when they came to America, meat was much easier to get so they did new things with it.
  • Sailors and fishermen were the first to cook marinara sauce, inventing it because after being at sea all day, it is quick and easy to make.
  • Italians generally eat about 65 pounds of pasta every year – each! Americans usually only eat about 15 pounds each every year.
  • Many people have heard that Marco Polo brought pasta back to Italy from China. That is false! To find out how and where pasta originated, check out A History of Pasta in our “Background” section of this website.
  • Pasta is not actually fattening. The reason pasta can cause weight gain is because of the amount of carbohydrates in it. Pasta has almost 40 times more grams of carbohydrates than grams of fat. So if you eat a lot of pasta, be sure to do a lot of working out too!
  • Eating pasta can help you Relax! It’s true. The carbohydrates in pasta cause your body to produce a chemical called serotonin, which helps you to relax.
  • Gnocchi is almost always listed with pasta dishes on a menu but it’s not really pasta. Gnocchi is made from potatoes or even bread crumbs, unlike pasta which is mainly made from wheat and water. Gnocchi is even cooked differently than pasta.
  • In some South American countries Italian food is very common. In fact, gnocchi is traditionally eaten every month, on the 29th day. This is because gnocchi does not cost much to make and the 29th was the day before workers would be paid for the month and most people were poor by then. It was even tradition for some to put a bill under their plates as they ate in hopes of having good luck and bringing in more money.
  • A single serving of pasta is only a half of a cup of pasta – cooked!
  • Arabs are said to have been the people to invent dried pasta. Italians liked their pasta fresh.
  • Not all shapes of pasta are used all over Italy. There are some shapes of pasta that are only used in certain regions.