1. As Federico Fellini famously put it: “Life is a combination of magic and pasta."
2. According to the Encyclopedia of Pasta, 310 specific forms have been documented; it can be confusing, as they can have almost 1300 different names.
3. The National Pasta Association is not Italian but… American! (The USA are the second largest producers of pasta).
4. An Etruscan tomb showed a group of natives making pasta as far back as the fourth century B.C.
5. Pasta existed for thousands of years before anyone ever thought to put tomato sauce on it.
6. Dried pasta has between 11g and 15g Protein per 100g: making it into a nutritious meal is easier than most people think.
7. The name Penne, which in Italian means pens, originally is derived from a quill pen. Yes, it looks like that too!
8. Buy quality pasta. There are tons of varieties of pasta available in the UK, and some are lovely! There is a big difference and it’s worth investing an extra pound or two on high-quality, tasty pasta.
9. Boil plenty of water in your kettle. Maybe even two runs... You’d be surprised to know that many Italians do NOT use the kettle to boil their water, they like to wait patiently for it. It’s almost like a ritual.
10. Add salt to your boiling water. Salt needs to be added with the boiling water in the pot, and most importantly before the pasta.
11. Use rock salt (one heaped teaspoon) or table salt (two teaspoons).
12. Measure the dried pasta using this rule: 75g per person if pasta is served as a starter or 125g per person if it’s served as a main. A 500g packet is good for 4 people as a main dish.
13. Make sure the water is seriously boiling before adding the pasta.
14. Do not listen to anyone that says you should add olive oil in boiling water. It’s just a pasta myth, and there is no need.
15. The perfect cooking time really depends on the type of pasta; read the label and use a timer and, most importantly, cook it to your own taste.
16. Pour the pasta into the boiling water. Let it cook for the correct time.
17. Drain the pasta, but leave one or two tablespoons of the starchy water in the pot as they will help to mix the sauce in later on.
18. Pasta cooking water is your friend. As pasta cooks it releases starch into the water, and it’s this mildly starchy water that can bring the pasta and the sauce into a more perfect union.
19. Pour the drained pasta back in the original pot (which is still hot!) and then mix by pouring in the sauce. It helps to keep the magic!
20. The average person in Italy eats more than 51 pounds of pasta every year. That’s more than double the average amount of the two next highest pasta-eating countries Venezuela and Tunisia.
21. “Tutto quello che vedete, lo devo agli Spaghetti.” [“All you see, I owe it to Spaghetti.”] - Sophia Loren