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Pasta has to be Italy’s greatest contribution to world cuisine. Most people usually associate pasta with noodles, but pasta really refers to a wide assortment of flour and grain concoctions that come in a variety of shapes. Macaroni is one such pasta that is not in noodle form. The word pasta comes from the Italian word for paste or dough.

Pasta also refers to dishes that have pasta as the main ingredient and which are usually spruced up with sauce or a type of seasoning.

There are two ways to cook pasta- by extrusion and by lamination. Extrusion mashes the ingredients through a die, which is a plate with holes. Lamination calls for the dough to be kneaded and folded, later rolled to achieve a thick mixture before it is cut with the use of slitters. Fresh pasta is simple to cook and is ready quickly but it spoils easily as well since its content is mostly water. Dry pasta lasts longer because it has only around 10% moisture.

There are now Italian pastas as well as American pastas. The Italian pasta, which has a yellow color and a chewy texture, comes from durum wheat semolina. American pastas are made from farina and semolina, with a texture and flavor that are inferior to Italian pastas and are used mostly in casseroles. There are also Asian noodles, which are thinner than pasta and come from wheat flour.

The most well loved pastas are certainly the noodle-type pastas such as spaghetti and vemicelli. Macaroni is the most well loved small tube pasta, followed by penne. Fettucine and linguine are pasta that are shaped like ribbons. There is also pasta made from tiny grains such as couscous and orzo as well as pasta made from large sheets like lasagna. Ravioli, tortellini and manicotti are an entirely different pasta group, as they are hollow pasta that is filled with stuffing.

Here’s a small known fact about pasta. Did you know that it was Thomas Jefferson who first brought macaroni to America? Upon returning to the US in 1789 after a stint as the ambassador to France, Jefferson brought with him a macaroni machine, which was the first such recorded contraption in the United States.

Jonathon Hardcastle writes articles on many topics including ecookingcentral.com/ Cooking, homeimprovementstation.com/ Home Improvement, and theoutdoorslifestyle.com/ Outdoors

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