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Get Lost in the Sauce With a Brand New Pasta Shape, Cascatelli

The ruffled, waterfall-inspired noodle resembles a combination of mafaldine and bucatini

Cascatelli, a play on the word for waterfall in Italian, was designed to hold the right amount of sauce with its 90-degree curve and hollow slide-like inside. ( (Scott Gordon Bleicher/Dan Pashman))
smithsonianmag.com

According to award-winning food podcast host Dan Pashman, the "perfect" pasta shape is ideal for its ability to deliver a satisfying bite, hold the right amount of savory sauce, and easily cling to a fork. After three years spent inventing such a triple-threat noodle, Pashman has unveiled his masterpiece: cascatelli. The new pasta shape is a short, ruffled strip that curves at a 90-degree angle, reports tells NPR's Heidi Glenn and Rachel Martin.

In his podcast, "The Sporkful," Pashman takes us on his journey of creating the ideal pasta shape in a five-episode series called "Mission: ImPASTAable." The series details and documents Pashman's story on making the perfect pasta after spaghetti was just not cutting it, and other kinds of pasta were just as mediocre, reports CBS News.

"Spaghetti is just a tube, after a few bites, it's the same," Pashman tells NPR.

There is a lot of work that goes into creating a new pasta shape and many are designed to serve different purposes. Some pasta is designed to hold thicker sauces, like rigatoni, and others are designed to hold lighter, oily sauces, like trofie. Cascatelli, a play on the Italian word for waterfall, was designed to hold the right amount of sauce with its 90-degree curve and hollow slide-like inside.

"That right-angle element is really key to what I think makes this shape different," Pashman says to NPR. "There are very few pasta shapes that have right angles. It provides resistance to the bite at all angles. It creates kind of like an I-beam, and that makes for a very satisfying bite."

To begin his quest of creating the ideal pasta, Pashman bought, ate, and documented any pasta he could get his hands on in the New York metro area, he tells Ashlie D. Stevens for Salon in an interview. From there, he narrowed down existing pasta choices that would inspire his new shape to mafaldine for its ruffles and bucatini for its tube-like shape, Pashman explains to Salon. These pasta shapes also met the three specific criteria Pashman set for his ideal pasta shape.

First, the pasta had to have "forkability," the ability to be easily picked with your fork. Next, the pasta's "sauceability" was tested, or how well a sauce would stick to the pasta. Finally, it had to be satisfying to sink your teeth into, or have an element of "toothsinkability," Salon reports.

Cascatelli was finally brought to life at the Sfoglini Pasta factory in New York's Hudson Valley after several struggles to convince companies to take Pashman seriously, CBS News reports.

The first batch of 3,700 boxes of Cascatelli sold out online, but more will be available on the Sfoglini website, CBS News reports.

"I love pasta. I'll eat any pasta you give me, and there's room in the world for many pasta shapes to coexist," Pashman tells Salon.

About Elizabeth Gamillo
Elizabeth Gamillo

Elizabeth Gamillo is a science journalist based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She has written for Science magazine as their 2018 AAAS Diverse Voices in Science Journalism Intern.

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