I woke up this morning and had a revelation! Well, it wasn’t exactly a revelation of grand proportion like when Einstein told Newton he was all wrong about the physical world back in the early twentieth century rather my revelation was epicurean and it concerned my favorite food on the planet; namely, Pasta!Like Julie Powell’s idea of cooking through all the recipes in Julie Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, I wondered this morning if it was possible for one individual to prepare and consume every conceivable (and available) commercial pasta shape ever produced?
A quick search reveals well over 300 (310 to be exact) pasta shapes
– click here
for a visual look at most of these shapes. Attempting to cook and consume one’s way through 300 + pasta shapes would be quite the challenge; after all, one couldn’t make a different pasta shape each night because of issues with weight and general diet (and this is coming from an Italian-American with the metabolism of a humming bird). But what if we took the Italian-American tradition (at least the one I grew up with in Northern New Jersey) of only consuming a starter (or primo) portion of pasta every Thursday and Sunday night? If two unique pasta shapes were cooked twice a week then one could get through about 100 pasta shapes in one year and 300+ shapes in about three years (this is assuming the pasta shape world ends at about 310 unique shapes). Thus, one could complete the above project in about 1095 days!
Today is, indeed, Thursday and I’m eating pasta tonight! The shape will be Trenne and the sauce will be comprised of peas, butter, olive oil, red onion, garlic, and grated Grana Padano.So, let the challenge begin! I’ll check off “Trenne” tomorrow from the list of 300+ pastas (see below) and in turn reach my goal by, roughly, February 9, 2014.
(Little Tommaso says, “Dad, you can do it!” Big Tommaso is a little more skeptical and says, “You’re crazy!”)
I’ve set up some rules and guidelines for myself:
1. Any claims of consuming a specific shape will be accompanied by photos of me in my home kitchen, along with said pasta shape in at least one photo! Ordering a pasta shape at a restaurant will not count.
2. I hope to include a recipe with each pasta dish, but I don’t expect to be able to come up with 158 unique sauces (don’t push your luck).
3. There may be times when said pasta shape will be difficult to secure, in that case I may need to either, 1. get on a plane to Italy and conduct a search for the missing pasta shape 2. make the shape at home (if possible) or 3. do a pasta shape substitution. I’m hoping to avoid #1 and #3!
That’s it; if you can think of another guideline just let me know and I’ll include it above. I’ll be updating the list below by simply adding the date of pasta consumption and a strikethrough on the given pasta shape (as well as a link). I’ll be posting individual entries with pasta photo and recipe (hopefully each Friday and Monday).Oh, if you’d like to contribute photos of you and your family cooking you favorite pasta shape then please send pics via email and I’ll be sure to post them!
List of Pasta Shapes (let me know if I’ve missed any):
1.Acini di pepe
18.Casoncelli or casonsèi
32.Creste di galli
90.Occhi di Lupo
91.Occhi di pernice
127.Scialatelli of Scilatielli
128.Seme di melone
130.Spaghetti alla chitarra
(3/12/10, Sauce: peas, red onion, garlic, and grana padano)
(3/15/10, Sauce: Braised meat tomato sauce with meatballs, ribs, sausage)
Update: 3/15/10: Manicaretti, who imports Rustichella into the US, told me there are closer to 310 pasta shapes, as opposed to the 158 I had researched earlier (I’ll add the shapes to the above list as I consume them!). Specifically, the good folks at Manicaretti pointed me to the seminal pasta book, Encyclopedia of Pasta by Oretta Zanini de Vita (here’s the review from the NY Times). And, in fact, when checking the preface of the book de Vita (no de Ziti!) mentions there are 310 standard pasta variations (not including the sub variations which are basically off-springs of 310 basic shapes). In turn, my quest deepens and stretches to 2014 (adding another, roughly year and half, to eating every known dry pasta shape on the planet.