BLOG

Discovering the secrets of pasta

05 October 202112 min reading

Carl Zuanelli President International Pasta Organisation

The figures about worldwide pasta consumption tell us that everybody likes it, it was everybody’s favorite food during the lockdown. Pasta is affordable, simple, it can be eaten every day and it means pleasure and happiness; it can unite people and it can be identified with the conviviality we missed so much.

All over the world, the year 2020 marked the rediscovery of pasta, once again perceived as a diet staple, a comfort food par excellence, an irreplaceable element of a healthy Mediterranean lifestyle. According to a study by a multi-country study commissioned to DOXA by IPO, Unione Italiana Food and ITA Agency, analyzed the trend regarding pasta consumption during the lockdown in Italy, Germany, France, UK and the USA, which account for more than one third of the global pasta consumption. In 2020, it has been confirmed that pasta is a weekly, or even daily, pleasure all around the world. Almost all French (99%), German (98%) and English (95%) people eat it, as well as 9 Americans out of 10, which seems incredible if we consider that the USA are the homeland of high-protein diets. And more than the number of consumers, the most surprising element is the consumption frequency abroad: in all the studied countries, most people eat pasta 1 to 4 times a week, particularly 56% Americans, 85% French and 61% German people. 6 Americans out of 100 and 7 French people out of 100 even eat it every day.

This picture reveals that the pandemic changed the approach to pasta, we have devoted hundreds of social media conversations and photos to Spaghetti and Rigatoni, with almost 270,000 quotes over the past 6 months on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. But some lack the simple basics, from cooking time to combining pasta types with sauces, maybe because they are so used to eating it every day, or because they belong to the 20% that openly state that they don’t know their way around the kitchen.

In response to this eagerness to learn more, IPO pasta makers and Unione Italiana Food are launching #PastaDiscovery, a cycle of virtual appointments dedicated to the ABC of pasta, for lifelong pasta lovers, for those who are rediscovering it and for absolute beginners in the kitchen. #PastaDiscovery will come to life in two separate online events over the course of the year, with heaps of multimedia content, to the history, the science and the culture of pasta.

 ZUANELLI: “WE ARE ALL PASTA LOVERS, BUT THERE IS STILL A GREAT DESIRE TO LEARN AND DISCOVER”

“When we talk about food and especially pasta, our judgement is often subjective or biased,” explains Carl Zuanelli, President of International Pasta Organisation. “We do not have the audacity to teach people how to cook pasta, since they already know so much about it, but we have realized that some information is still unknown and that the younger generations, in particular, have a great desire to learn and do so with pleasure. Through Pasta Discovery we want to celebrate this rekindled love between people and pasta with a compendium of tips and instructions to help them prepare their favourite type, in the hope that they will look at Fusilli or Spaghetti with different eyes and take more pleasure in cooking and eating it. Because pasta, besides being delicious and healthy, is also a source of pleasure, joy and sociability.”

25% INCREASE IN 6 MONTHS IN PASTA EXPORTS

2020 has been sadly marked by the health emergency, but the global love for pasta hasn’t stopped. On the contrary, an international study reveals that 1 person out of 4 increased its consumption of pasta during the lockdown, thus choosing it as good, healthy, easy to cook, sustainable and “favorite” food in this very difficult period. The piece of research titled “Pasta consumption during the lockdown”, commissioned to DOXA by Unione Italiana Food and ICE Agency, confirmed what we saw in the symbolic pictures of the lockdown – shopping carts and cupboards full of pasta – by interviewing a sample of more than 5 thousand people in Italy, Germany, France, UK and USA. These countries make up more than a third of the global pasta consumption and are also the first reference markets for Italian pasta, whose 60% production is destined to export.

This piece of research was presented on World Pasta Day and gives confirmation “from the field” of a 20-year-long trend. In 2019, nearly 16 million tons of pasta were produced in the world, more than the double of the 7 million tons produced 20 years ago. In Italy, where the consumption of pasta is a strong tradition, there are no signs of retreat: we all eat it (98%), more precisely, 23.1 kg per capita per year. About 6 Italians out of 10 of all ages and mostly living in the central-southern part of the country eat it every day. But also – and this is already a piece of news – (almost) all French, German and English people eat it. Not to mention 9 Americans out of 10, which is incredible if we think that the USA are the homeland of high-protein diets. It must be said that in these countries, the average per capita consumption is lower than in Italy (9kg per year in the USA, 8 in France and Germany, 3.5 in the United Kingdom).

As of pasta shapes, Italians prefer short and ridged pasta, while English and American people prefer it long. German people prefer fresh pasta (whether stuffed or not). On the contrary, French people are those who prefer short and smooth pasta. Everybody agrees on just one thing: the quality of Italian pasta is not questioned. Indeed, made in Italy pasta is the first choice of world families. It is preferred by 72% English families, 68% French families, 54% German families and 48% American families.

PASTA, THE SYMBOL OF MEDITERRANEAN DIET AND OF “PHASE 2”

“The increase in its global consumption means that pasta can be considered as crossover food, free from cultural, religious and economic barriers – Riccardo Felicetti, President of the Italian pasta makers at Unione Italiana Food, says. Then, it is good: the 2nd edition of Al Dente wants to highlight the pleasure to eat and cook pasta and many great chefs will help us to remind that this simple but noble kind of food is at its best also when it comes to healthy and balanced recipes inspired by the Mediterranean Diet. Pasta is a happy moment that helps us to step away from an uncertain future”.

PASTA UNITES PEOPLE, IT MEANS PLEASURE AND HAPPYNESS

According to Paolo Barilla, “The figures about worldwide pasta consumption tell us that everybody likes it, it was everybody’s favorite food during the lockdown. Pasta is affordable, simple, it can be eaten every day and it means pleasure and happiness; it can unite people and it can be identified with the conviviality we missed so much. It is a versatile ingredient that matches well with all sorts of ingredients from every kind of cuisine and gives each recipe the taste and benefits of the Mediterranean Diet. Since 22 years World Pasta Day celebrates our passion for this ancient but innovative ingredient; indeed it is good for the palate, the Planet and the health of those who live in it”.

1 OUT OF 4 PASTA DISHES IN THE WORLD IS ITALIAN, +25% EXPORT IN 2020

According to IPO figures, Italy is the first pasta producer (3.5 million tons, +4% compared to 2018, then there are USA and Turkey), and we are also the first consumers, with 23.1 kg per capita per year, before Tunisia (17), Venezuela (12) and Greece (11.4). The whole world celebrates this first place: 1 out of 4 pasta dishes in the world is Italian, 3 out of 4 in Europe. If 2019 saw an export record (more than 2.1 tons, +7.5% compared to 2018), Unione Italiana Food figures reveal an extraordinary result in the first six months of 2020 (+25%). Germany, UK, France, USA and Japan are the most strategic countries, but pasta consumption increased by 40% in the USA, Canada, Australia and Romania, by 30% in the UK, the Netherlands and Saudi Arabia. It increased by even 40% in Hong Kong, Ukraine and Ireland. Other strategic markets, like France, China and South Korea increased by more than 20%.

10 TIPS FROM WORLDWIDEPASTA MAKERS FOR HOW TO COOK PASTA PERFECTLY HOW MUCH WATER PER 100G OF PASTA? NOW LESS THAN 1 LITRE

The right amount of water allows the pasta to cook evenly without sticking and with perfect saltiness. According to international chefs, every 100g of pasta needs a litre of water. Today, the quality of pasta is higher than it was 40 or 50 years ago and releases less starch during cooking, so we can cook our 100g of pasta in 0.7 litres of water… or even less if we are preparing a one-pot pasta dish, where the pasta is cooked risotto-style together with its condiment. And even the recipe tells us how much water we should use. Cooking the pasta in less water will concentrate the starch, which makes it combine better with the sauce.

THE COOKING WATER: ALWAYS KEEP A LITTLE TO ONE SIDE

A ladle of cooking water should always be kept aside in case the pasta gets too dry or to help it combine with the sauce. But don’t forget, the remaining water can be reused even after it has served its “purpose”, e.g. for steaming or as a base for broths and soups. And again, “starchy” water is perfect for deep cleaning dishes and kitchen utensils, or once cooled, for watering plants… and even for a foot bath!

NOTE THE TRANSPARENCY OF THE WATER

Is it opaque? Is it transparent? It depends from the tenacity of durum wheat semolina. But some productions are “designed” to release more starch so they combine better with sauces.

THE SALT: WHAT TYPE, HOW MUCH AND WHEN?

It should be added when the water starts to visibly boil and before adding the pasta. The recommended amount varies from 7 to 10 grams per 100g of pasta. It can be reduced further if the sauce itself is salty or rich, or if the selected pasta type requires longer cooking times. Is it better to use coarse or fine salt? It doesn’t make a difference, but for the same volume, a spoon of fine salt contains more sodium chloride than coarse salt.

THE PASTA SHOULD BE GENTLY “LOWERED” NOT THROWN INTO THE POT

This gesture is also an art: pasta mustn’t be thrown, but lowered gently, to prevent it from breaking or cracking. It should be placed in the pot in one go and only when the water is actually boiling, and stirred often with a wooden spoon during the first few minutes of cooking, to stop it from sticking. Stir it gently to allow the water to wrap around the pasta evenly.

PASTA-SITTER: WHAT TO DO WHILE IT IS COOKING

You should always keep an eye on the pasta, even while it is cooking… and not only. In addition to visual checks of the cooking water, the quality of the pasta can also be felt… with the nose: A good wheaty smell is an indication of a quality product. Firstly, the readiness of the pasta must be checked inside the pot (with a wooden spoon to test its density and flexibility) and then tasted (to see if it is “al dente” and salted to perfection).

THE RIGHT POT. AND SPOON, BETTER IF IT’S WOODEN

Choose the pot according to the type of pasta and amount of water you need. Short pasta types are happy with a wide, low pot, while for Linguine, Bucatini, Spaghetti & Co it is best to choose one with high edges, filled with no more than two thirds of its capacity, to prevent the water from overflowing during cooking. In the first few minutes of cooking the pasta should be stirred gently with a wooden spoon to stop it from sticking or falling apart. And if we place the spoon on the edge of the pot, it makes a perfect stove-saver: the temperature difference between the spoon and the boiling water will stop the liquid from boiling over.

LID: WHEN YOU NEED IT AND WHEN YOU DON’T

The pot should be covered to make the water boil faster, but once the pasta has been added, the lid should always be removed. Pasta should be cooked uncovered, unless we are using a pressure cooker or the passive method.

THE PROPHECY OF THE COLANDER: PERFECT TIMING DEPENDS ON THE RECIPE

Pasta continues to cook even after it has been drained, so to keep it “al dente” when served this must be taken into account during preparation. It should be drained a few minutes earlier if we plan on mixing it with a sauce in the pan, while for a cold pasta dishes, it should be removed from the heat after two thirds of the cooking time and placed in a covered bowl to continue cooking.

SOME EXTRA HINTS FOR PACCHERI & CO PASTA TYPES

Larger pasta types, such as Conchiglioni, Fusilloni and Paccheri, should be cooked with care to prevent them from breaking or losing their shape. Broken or “caved in” Paccheri pasta, whose structure has given way until the two sides join together and overlap, is a pasta maker’s nightmare. To prevent the pasta from breaking and maintain its perfect shape, just turn off the stove a few minutes before its recommended cooking time, cover the pot and let it finish cooking away from the heat.

Articles in Manşet Category
23 November 20202 min reading

New allergen identified in common wheat apart from gluten

Altınbaş University and Germany Potsdam University are researching 'Allergenic Proteins in Bread'....

25 September 20202 min reading

Syntegon introduces its Pack 202 flow wrapper

Syntegon Technology has launched the next generation of flow wrappers on the North American market...