The crazy world of delicious pasta is teeming with distinctive varieties, differing in shape, history, and gastronomical purpose. Beyond spaghetti or the comforting and familiar ravioli, a whole other realm of pasta shapes exists — many of which won’t show up on your average menu. Nevertheless, you can use this guide to help recognize even some of the most obscure pasta shapes and their purposes.
Linguine, for example, is pasta from Italy's Liguria region, created to be paired with seafood or pesto, while bucatini, a shape resembling spaghetti with a hollow center, is ideal for holding sauces like a rich cacio e pepe dish.
To illustrate the varied history of pasta, consider strozzapreti, whose name comes from the Italian word meaning "priest strangler." The name refers to a pasta shape that resembles a rolled towel. Don’t worry; the “towel” isn’t necessarily the murder weapon here. Instead, the etymology suggests that the pasta was so good that the even a holy man would eat it so gluttonously that he would likely choke on it!
The following is a collection of 36 different Italian pasta shapes. How many of these could you recognize on a menu?