Ever wondered about that "g" in lasagna? [Note: Mmmmm ... lasagna.]
As writers and eaters, we did, so we got in touch with Jacob Kenedy and Caz Hildebrand, authors of the awesome new book "The Geometry of Pasta
The amazingly illustrated book explains the ins and outs of pasta shapes, including which pair best with certain sauces, the history of linguine and so forth. Before we could really put our knowledge to use, though, we had to know how to pronounce
the pasta we were talking about ... and that turned out to be a battle unto itself. Unless you can already say orechiette
like a pro.
We got on the phone with Jacob and Caz, and they walked us through the 10 types of pasta you should really know how to pronounce. And trust us, there are no gimmes like lasagna on this list!
After the jump, we'll share our Italian education, plus some cool pasta history and awesome images.CONCHIGLIE: Kon-KEEL-Yeh
In Italian, a "g" before an "l" or an "n" makes a "y" sound. (There goes our lasagna question!)
This shape looks just like a seashell, and can come with or without ridges.
DISCHI VOLANTI: DIS-Kee Vo-LAN-Ti
Consider that "ch" combination a "k."
This shape's name literally translates to "flying saucer," and that's what it's meant to resemble. The pasta was first introduced in the mid-20th century, right around the time that the term was first coined in the U.S.
This one's a little more familiar to us, and therefore has been butchered a little more often. Nope, no pronouncing the "g"... and no "ch" sound, either. At least we got the short "o" sound right.
The name shares a root (gnocco) with the Italian word for "idiot," but the pasta name actually comes from the folktale of a woman who was so poor she fed her husband the knots of a tree, which turned into dumplings when she cooked them.
One more related pasta, for extra credit: gnudi (nyOO-dee), which comes from the word for nude and means "nude dumpling." The pasta is a ricotta ravioli with no pasta on the outside. (This does beg the question of what, exactly, defines a pasta, but as we found out, that's a whole different blog post ...)
In Italian, an "e" ending generally means an "ay" or "eh" sound. And again, the "ch" makes a "k."
This is the Italian word for "snail," and you can certainly see the resemblance in the pasta, which mimics a snail's shell.
Again, in Italian, the "e" tends to make an "eh" sound. This word is a little different, since it comes from the Sardinian dialect and is therefore a little more Latin-influenced (notice the -us ending).
The pasta name means "little cow" or "calves" in Italian.
Here, the "ie" combo makes a "y" noise, like what the "g" does to the "n" in lasagna.
These "little ears" are know for being delicious when they're cooked well. (And not so good when they aren't.)
Pronounce this pasta in short, staccato-like parts.
These big, fat tubes come from the south and the Italian word for "squid." They were created to smuggle prized Italian garlic across the border to Prussia in the 1600s after the Prussian emperor made such trade illegal.
The two "z"s make a "tz" sound in Italian.
This funny word actually means priest stranglers. One theory on the name's origin says that the priests were very greedy and ate so many of these noodles that they could have choked.
These are all short vowel sounds, with the "ch" doing what the "g" does in other words.
"Torchio" is an abbreviation for maccheroni al torchio
, which means "macaroni in the shape of a torch."
By now, you should know what the "g" does...
Don't mistake this tube pasta for tortelloni or tortellini. It's more like rigatoni than anything else.