The Geometry of Pasta

The Geometry of Pasta
Image from the Geometry of Pasta, Hildenbrand and Kenedy; Gemelli pasta shape.
See Below for Contest and Book Give Away! contest closed
You have to admire any book that documents well over 110 authentic Italian pasta sauces and the hundreds of pasta shapes that marry best to a given sauce.  If a book goes further and contains beautifully rendered graphic shapes for each pasta then you have a timeless cookbook that should be part of every Italian kitchen.
Caz Hildebrand and Jacob Kenedy’s recently published The Geometry of Pasta, in it’s simplest form, is a guide to basic pasta shapes (and a topic that has been covered exhaustively by Oretta Zanini De Vita in her magnificent work the Encyclopedia of Pasta).  However, what elevates the book to a worthwhile work is the emphasis on the critical, and often overlooked concept that:the form (namely, the pasta shape) is critical, and deeply related to, the flavor (pasta condiment or sauce).

That is to say, all pasta shapes are designed with a certain sauce in mind and just like you wouldn’t drink a Coke with a risotto made with shaved truffles you wouldn’t marry a pasta shape incapable of accommodating a certain sauce given it’s geometry (or angle, diameter, size, etc.)
(photo: from the Geometry of Pasta, Hildenbrand and Kenedy; Penne Rigati pasta shape.)The Geometry of Pasta contains a few short paragraphs on how to cook pasta as well as a few recipes for basic tomato sauce, but the majority of the book is dedicated to describing pasta shapes (specifically the dimensions and history) and the most appropriate sauces/recipes for the given shape.  For example, gemelli are described as a complex helix always made with “two blades” but, “the blades are curved until they are almost enclose themselves to make tubes.”  In the same few pages you’ll find a wonderful al fagiolini (green beans) recipe as well as a note on what other sauces would work with the shape, including aglio e olio, arrabbiata, chicken and prunes, Norma (eggplant, cheese, and tomato sauce), pesto Trapanese, pork and pigskin, salad of zucchini, etc.

Adding further beauty to the book, each pasta shape in the 288 page work is accompanied by a wonderfully original graphic design by way of co-author Hildebrand (click here to see some of these shapes).  The “pasta icons” are done in black and white and show, in detail, the given curves, lines, and shapes of each long and short pasta type.  For someone unfamiliar with the more complex pasta shapes, the black and white graphic design portrays each pasta shape in more detail than, say, a simple photo and makes The Geometry of Pasta an excellent reference work, as well.  In fact, it’s already helped us greatly with the Scordo Pasta Challenge – our attempt to eat every known pasta on the planet!
We’re so smitten with Hildenbrand and Kennedy’s work that we’ve teamed up with the folks over at Quirk Books to give away a single copy of the The Geometry of Pasta to a lucky fan!  Here are the rules and how to enter:

– Prize Giveaway includes one (1) copy of “The Geometry of Pasta”
– 1. leave a comment under this post on your favorite pasta shape and accompanying sauce (Italian or otherwise) and 2. become a fan of on Facebook (if you’re already a fan of Scordo on Facebook then please encourage all of your friends to become fans on Facebook by 1. Click Suggest to Friends, 2. Select Your Friends 3. Send the Invite.  You can also leave a comment on our Facebook page under the post on “The Geometry of Pasta”
– Only one entry per person please.
– The contest is open until 12 midnight on 2/6 and a single random user will be picked via (sorry contest only open to folks from the US given shipping logistics).  The winner will be announced immediately on Twitter (so please follow me) and on by 5PM on Monday, 2/7.
– Please use a valid email address when leaving a comment so I can contact you just in case you’re the lucky winner (I’ll need your shipping address).
– Quirk will send out the book to the single contest winner during the week of 2/14
If you must have the book right away (which I encourage) then buy the book via Amazon!


  1. This book looks so fun– I particularly love the stark design in black and white. So clean and sharp!
    My favorite pasta/sauce pairing would have to be a basic rigatoni in alfredo with sausage and white wine. I love how the little tubes capture the sauce and are rugged enough to stand up the sausage without being too big to poke with a fork!

  2. Pasta is my favorite type of Italian food. I have it at least 3 times a week. But when it’s all said and done my favorite is a simple spaghetti with pomodoro e basilco.

  3. Hmm. My favorite shape and sauce–That is extremely difficult. I might have to say linguini with olive oil, garlic, anchovies and parsley. iInclude a good wine and a salad.

  4. My grandfather was from Palermo, but my grandmother was from Naples. As she was the family cook, kitchenwise, we do things Neopolitan-style. My mother taught me the importance of tossing the drained pasta with a generous amount of sauce. Each shape of pasta held the sauce differently, she said, and that accounted for each one having a unique taste… and everyone having his own favorite shape! My fave dish is what my mother called Pasta Con Piselli: spaghetti with peas. I make it with angel hair or capellini and a quick marinara to which a cup of green peas has been added in the last few minutes of cooking. I serve it with additional sauce and grated Locatelli Romano. I am ashamed to say that I can put away a half pound of this all by myself at one sitting!

  5. Son buone le Pappardelle!

  6. You may send my book I am going to win to:
    215 Rio Villa Dr #3148
    Punta Gorda, Fl
    Mille Grazie !!!!!!!!!!

  7. I am a pastaholic! One of my favorite shapes is the radiatori with fresh tomatoes and zucchini. The vegies fall apart and pieces are caught in the parts of the radiatori!
    I can’t wait to get this book; it seems to be common sense in Italy, but not here!

  8. My favorite pasta would have to be tagliatelle, prepared one of two ways: with a simple tomato sauce made with fresh plum tomatoes and basil, or Bolognese. Here’s to hoping to win the book!

  9. This is the kind of book you might want to use as a checkoff list — to try and eat every kind of pasta there is. So much pasta and so little time! Looks like a fun book with seriously good info!

  10. To be truthful, lately I’ve been having a really heavy craving for spaghetti carbonara – although I have always been intrigued by the engineering behind pasta shapes, especially geometric ones like trenne and trennette.

  11. There are so many types of pastas/sauces that I could claim as a favorite because I simply love them all!
    Lately, my favorite has been rigatoni in vodka sauce with a spicy crumbled sausage, but I will be a traditionalist here and say my favorite is still my Nonna’s Sunday sauce (I have a pot on the stove right now) tossed with capellini, with braciole, sausage, and meatballs, topped with imported parmigiano reggiano.
    There’s nothing like it!

  12. My mother’s family owned a small pasta factory in Cumberland, MD. The image above reminds me of all the bronze dies they had for making different pasta shapes.
    My favorite shape and sauce? Tagliatelle alla Bolognese!

  13. I love pappardelle and Fra Diavolo sauce. MMM..mmm..good.

  14. Angel hair with olive oil,garlic,and shaved parm. Or a good, light marinara.
    The book looks so interesting I plan to add it to my kitchen collection whether I win or not.

  15. I just tried a Rienzi pasta I’ve never seen before – catanisella lunga – the whole wheat version. Long, thin tubes. I would definitely do it again. Favorites? I’m pretty traditional – penne or linguini will always do the trick!

  16. Janet Chiappone- Messina

    My favorite is fusilli lunghi that I make with a light vodka sauce, large fresh shrimp, baby portabello mushrooms & asparagus tips topped with fresh grated pecorino romano cheese. My all time favorite is my mom’s rigatoni with meat sauce and sausage but haven’t been able to duplicate the way she made it since she’s been gone.

  17. My fave is strozzapreti with stinging nettles (without the sting!), brings back great memories of being overfed at a strangers farmhouse by the mother of the family while on my first visit to Emilia Romagna many years ago. Also due to the dark name.

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