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Release date: 12/28/2004.
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"No man is lonely while eating spaghetti."
--Robert Morley, British actor and wit

Everything you see I owe to spaghetti
--Sophia Loren

"Dear Miss Piggy--
Whenever I cook spaghetti, it always gets all tangled up into clumps. What am I doing wrong?"
--signed, Frustrated

Dear Frustrated,
I am not sure, but you might try a light cream rinse, followed by a quick once-over with a blow drying"

Marriage is not merely sharing the fettucini, but sharing the burden of finding the fettucini restaurant in the first place
--Calvin Trilling

Chi guarda a maggioranza
Spesse volte s'inganna.
Granel di pepe vince
Per virtù la lasagne

(He who looks at magnitude
Is often mistaken.
A grain of pepper conquers
Lasagne with its strength.)
--Iacopone da Todi (ca. 1250-1306), Italian poet traditionally credited with composing the medieval hymn Stabat Mater

Macrows. Take and make a thynne foyle of douwh, and kerve it in pieces, and cast hem on boillying water, and seeth it wele. Take chese, and grate it, and butter, cast bynethen and above as losyns, and serve forth"
--14th century English recipe for macaroni and cheese, from the Forme of Cury

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Most stories about the origin of pasta center around who introduced it to Italy. Some say Marco Polo, citing accounts which claimed he learned the art in China in the late 13th century and brought it back to Venice. Others say it arrived with rampaging Germanic tribes in the 5th century, sweet-talked out of a chieftain's kitchen maid by an amorous Roman soldier.

Certainly Italy has turned pasta into an art form, but this created food is native to many different cuisines, from China, Japan, and Southeast Asia to Central Europe--and certainly began elsewhere. The Chinese had it by the first century AD--and noodle shops were all the rage by the Sung dynasty (960-1280)...yet one early Chinese writer indicates that common people learned to make noodles from foreigners, which he didn't say. Japan was making pasta squares, then switched to ribbon shapes in the 12th century (see below). Then, too, people in India and the Middle East were making them by 1200.

At any rate, pasta didn't become big business and world famous until the 18th century, at which time entrepreneurs in Naples, Italy, began mass production by machine--to the point that homemade pasta was in a steep decline by the 19th century, particularly in southern Italy.

These hard little unleavened breads, cooked in boiling water, can be made from any number of different flours, starches, and beans.

Types, by claimant country:

Please Note: Tours can be taken at the Yokohama Noodle Museum in Japan, which displays ancient noodle grinding bowls and over 400 ceremonial soup bowls, and which cites the 12th century as the watershed in Japanese noodlemaking--when noodles changed from square shapes to ribbons.
  • Arrowroot vermicelli (made from arrowroot starch)--thinly cut ribbons
  • Cellophane noodles (made from mung bean starch)--ribbons cut in different widths, also known as "bean thread noodles)
  • Korean sweet potato vermicelli (made from sweet potato and mung bean starch
  • Rice noodles (made from rice flour)--cut into different sizes and shapes, including rice sticks and fine rice vermicelli (good for soup)--common in Southeast Asia, like Thailand and Vietnam, and parts of China. See Vietnamese Pho noodles (made from rice flour).
  • Japanese soba (made from buckwheat flour)--ribbon pasta, brownish-grey in color
  • Japanese soma (made from wheat flour)--thin pasta, like angel hair, and cream colored
  • Japanese udon (made from wheat flour)--a little thicker than linguine, cream colored pasta
  • Chinese wheat noodles--light yellow in color and cut into different thicknesses.


  • Spatzle--wheat flour, homemade soft noodles

3. ITALIAN (almost always made from durum semolina wheat flour)

  • Acini di peppe (peppercorns)--tiny balls
  • Agnoletti (priests' caps)--small stuffed crescents
  • Anellini--tiny pasta rings
  • Bavettine--narrow linguine
  • Bucatini--hollow strands
  • Cannaroni--wide tubes (also, zitoni)
  • Cannelloni (large reeds or pipes)--round stuffed tubes
  • Capelli d'Angelo (angel hair)--long, fine strands (also, capellini)
  • Capelveneri--very thin noodles
  • Cappelletti (little hats)--stuffed hats
  • Cavatappi--short, thin, spiral macaroni
  • Cavatelli--short, narrow, ripple-edge shells
  • Conchiglie (conch shells)--shells (also, maruzze)
  • Coralli--tiny tubes, generally used in soup
  • Ditali (thimbles)--small macaroni
  • Ditalini--smaller ditali
  • Elbow macaroni--small to medium tubes
  • Farfalle (butterflies)--little bows
  • Farfallini--smaller farfalle
  • Farfallone--bigger farfalle
  • Fedelini (little faithful ones)--very fine spaghetti
  • Fettucce (ribbons)--flat wide egg noodles, about 1/2-inch
  • Fettuccelle--flat narrow egg noodles, about 1/8-inch
  • Fettuccini--flat medium egg noodles, about 1/4-inch
  • Fideo--thin, coiled strands that unwind in cooking into vermicelli
  • Fusilli (little springs)--spiral-shaped noodles
  • Gemelli (twins)--short 1 and 1/2-inch twists
  • Gnocchi--small, ripple-edge shells
  • Lasagne--long, broad (2-3 inches) noodles, straight or ripple-edge
  • linguine (little tongues)--narrow, long ribbons
  • Lumache (snails)--large, stuffed shells
  • Macaroni--tubes
  • Maccheroni--all types, sizes, and shapes of macaroni
  • Mafalde--broad, fat, ripple-edge noodles
  • Magliette (links)--short, curved tubes
  • Manicotti (little muffs)--very large stuffed tubes
  • Margherite (daisies)--narrow flat noodles with one rippled side
  • Maruzze (seashells)--any size of shells, from tiny to jumbo
  • Mezzani--very short curved tubes
  • Mostacciioli (little moustaches)--2-inch tubes
  • Occhi di lapo (wolves' eyes)
  • Orecchiette (little ears)--tiny disk shapes
  • Orzo--rice-shaped grains
  • Pappardelle--wide noodles with rippled sides
  • Pastina (tiny dough)--little bits used in soups
  • Penne (pens or quills)--diagonally cut tubes, smooth or ridged sides
  • Perciatelli--thin, hollow pasta strands (like bucatini)
  • Pezzoccheri--thick, buckwheat noodles
  • Quadrettini--small flat squares
  • Radiatore (little radiators)--thick rippled boxes
  • Ravioli--stuffed squares
  • Rigatoni--big, ridged macaroni
  • Riso--rice-shaped grains (like orzo)
  • Rotelle (little wheels)--small, spoked wheels
  • Rotini--short spirals
  • Ruote de carro (cartwheels)--spoked wheels
  • Semi di melone (melon seeds)--tiny, flat seed shapes
  • Spaghetti--long, thin, round strands
  • Spaghettini--thin spaghetti
  • Stiraletti (little boots)
  • Stricchelli (bows or butterflies)
  • Tagliarini--long paperthin ribbons (also tagliolini)
  • Tagliatelle--long, thin, flat egg noodles, about 1/4-inch wide
  • Tortellini (little twists)--small stuffed bows
  • Tortelloni--big tortellini
  • Trenette--narrow, thick tagliatelle
  • Tripolini--small bow ties with round edges
  • Tubetti (little tubes)--tiny, hollow tubes
  • Vermicelli (little worms)--extra thin spaghetti
  • Ziti (bridegrooms)--slightly curved tubes, from 2-12 inches long