According to the National Pasta Association, the Americans consume 2.7 million tons of pasta every year, but have you ever wondered why there are so many shapes and sizes of noodles? In fact, there are more than 350 kinds of noodles and many have more than one name. Turns out there are several reasons beyond just how much fun it is to try all kinds of pasta. Here’s why they’re all so different.
Different Kinds of Pasta Hold Different Types of Sauce
One of the biggest reasons behind the many different types of pasta is that they are designed to be served with various sauces. According to experts, long thin pasta, like angel hair, is best served with a thin sauce, while thicker noodles, like the penne in our Mostaciolli with Meatballs, should be covered with thicker sauces. Generally, flat pasta works best with a cream sauce, while round pasta works best with tomato sauce. Some kinds of pasta like manicotti, large shells or ravioli are designed to be stuffed with meat or cheese.
Cultural Differences Also Play a Role
In America, you’ll see different pasta shapes than you do in Italy. That’s because Americans see pasta as a quick and easy dinner option. On the other hand, Italians make their pasta from scratch and see it as an experience rather than just a meal. The popular sauces in the region may also contribute to the most common types of pasta you see in various cultures. In Asian culture, flat thin pasta is seen as a way to make wontons. Pasta has a rich and varied history and can be found in many cultures across the globe besides just Italy and it’s done a little differently everywhere you go.
Texture Varies Among Pasta Shapes
Another reason why there are so many types of pasta is for textural reasons. For example, eating thin spaghetti feels much different than biting into the lasagna noodles we use in our Lasagna with Meat. Various kinds of noodles were created with certain dishes in mind. Farfalle was made to create a richer texture in pasta dishes because the middle cooks slower than the edges, making for a thicker bite in the center.
Sometimes a chef may choose a certain shape of pasta because of the way it looks. When a meal is finished, its appearance contributes to the appeal. For example, corzetti is a small flat noodle with a stamped design. They make a big impact on a finished meal. Likewise, small round pasta looks better in a bowl of soup than large bulky elbows or rotini.
Pasta can be dressed up to look great as a date night meal or have a more rustic look for a wholesome family meal.
Because it’s Fun
One of our favorite reasons why there are so many different kinds of pasta is because it’s fun to see and sample all the different shapes and sizes. For chefs, it’s enjoyable to experiment with different noodles to create new and interesting dishes that look great and taste even better. Who says you can’t have a little fun with your food?
Pasta is one of the most versatile ingredients in the world. As the average American eats about 20 lbs. of pasta every year, it is definitely up there on the list of most popular foodstuffs. With so many different kinds of pasta and so many sauces, you should never be stumped on what to make for dinner.
If you are struggling to come up with what to make for dinner, or just want something that won’t dirty every dish in the kitchen, pick up a Dogtown Pizza Gourmet Entree on your way home.