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Everybody knows that Italy is famous for pizza and pasta. What I didn’t know before moving here is how insanely big the selection of pasta in Italy is. I mean, the number of different brands and types and choices is ridiculous. Check out this picture from a supermarket.

pasta in Italy - supermarket

Crazy, right? That’s basically a whole isle full of pasta. And the other side is packed with even more choices: pasta with or without egg, short pasta or long pasta or pasta for use in oven-dishes, gluten-free pasta, whole wheat and enhanced pasta, sections for different brands, and another isle for fresh pasta in the refrigerated section.

And in restaurants the choices are even more confusing because what is listed on menus goes very often beyond the regular spaghetti or penne or rigatoni. Many of the listed dishes are created with local pasta shapes – shapes that are only made in a specific region. Who knew?! Short, twisty pasta named strozzapreti (priest stranglers) and short pieces of pasta made from leftover pasta dough called maltagliati (poorly cut) here in Emilia-Romagna, orecchiette (little ears) from Puglia, and spaghetti-with-a-hole-in-the-middle named appropriately bucatini (buco = hole) from Lazio. The nice thing is that more often than not, pasta dishes in restaurants are prepared with home-made pasta. So, either way, you’ll get a slightly different shape every time. Cool, right?

And here in Emilia-Romagna, the specialty is pasta ripiena (filled pasta). But there are so many different kinds, that it’s a story for another day 🙂

pasta in Italy - orecchiette

pasta in Italy - rigatoni

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