The Geometry of Pasta

Caz Hilebrand and Jacob Kenedy, Quirk, $24.95 (288p) ISBN 9781594744952
One would think that a minimalist cookbook devoid of photography wouldn't be worthy of coffee table status, but the illustrations adorning this volume prove otherwise. Conceived by award-winning graphic designer Hildebrand, who has designed cookbooks for Nigella Lawson and others, the diversity of pasta morphology, from Agnolotti to Ziti, is revealed through historical anecdotes, recipes, and an eye-catching b&w aesthetic. The book starts with the basics, demystified: salt, fat, cooking, and quantity. Kenedy then covers dry vs. fresh, and provides recipes for several pastas and for three authentic sauces that form the foundation for many of the sauces in the book. From the obscure story of Strozzapreti ("priest stranglers") to the humorous warming red pepper and whiskey sauce for Radiatore pasta, or "radiators," one learns how shapes are created to maximize surface area and sauce delivery. The ingredients needed for over 200 sauce preparations run the gamut from obscure (Lumace alla Lumache, or Snails with Snails) to the near pedestrian, like Frankfurters and Fontina, a recommended pairing with the wheel shaped Rotelline, "a complex, arguably uninspired shape that was only possible with the advancement of the pasta industries mechanization," an advancement that was apparently "much lauded by the Fascists." An instant classic. Illus. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 10/18/2010
Release date: 09/01/2010
Genre: Nonfiction
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