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  • Writer's pictureDaniel T. Dodaro

The Five Best Pasta Shapes (As Judged by Nonsense)

This post delves into the world of pasta without any regard for logic or objective criteria. | Written by Daniel T. Dodaro

(5) Rigatoni

Ah, Rigatoni. What a shape! A perfect cylindrical tube. Yes, yes, there are many types of pasta that are cylindrical, but I would argue that Rigatoni is special. Why? Because of the vertical lines that run down every piece. Like treads on a tire, they give Rigatoni traction. When that last piece of pasta is stranded in the bowl, slippery from all the leftover sauce, the slightest bit of pressure from a poorly-aimed fork can send it flying into the ether. Think Penne Ziti. There’s much to love about Penne Ziti, don’t get me wrong, but it carries with it that ultimate peril. One flat plate, one slip, and that last hope of satiating your hunger may fall to the wayside. Then, your pasta is gone, lost in the limbo between a table and chair, awaiting Armageddon. Because of this possibility, Rigatoni is a safer choice. Traction, ladies and gentlemen. Traction. But some might argue that it’s too safe. For this reason, Rigatoni comes in Fifth Place.


(4) Gemelli

Let’s talk Gemelli. Gemelli looks like two thin Penne Ziti twisted together. Its shape can be likened to a strand of DNA. Gemelli carries with it a sense of purpose, a sense of joy. It does not balk in the face of adversity. It waits for your fork tenderly and lovingly. This is Gemelli’s greatest strength, but also its greatest weakness. You see, the problem with Gemelli is that each and every piece has given up on its quest for meaning and has resorted to nihilism. Just look at a piece of Gemelli. Study it. It wants to be eaten. It’s ready for annihilation. How can we trust it? I love Gemelli, but I am skeptical of its intentions, and for that reason, it is ranked Number Four.


(3) Shells

Gazing deeply into the bowl, your heart finds itself longing for the sea. You put your ear up to that tiny shell of dough, like a child on a beach, only to hear what you never expected, but what should have been obvious all along—the grumbling of your stomach. This is the power of the Shell. There are no creatures living within. Instead, each piece retains some sauce in its conch-like curl, waiting to unleash a burst of flavor in your mouth. There are few who can resist the Shell’s charm. Even forest-dwellers find themselves enamored by its aquatic charisma. It does not demand reverence, and yet we offer it up to the Shell freely. You, my old friend, my compatriot, are ranked Number Three. Go home, now. Back to the land of your forefathers. Rest.


(2) Farfalle

Bowtie pasta. Each piece looks like it belongs on the Pringle’s Man neckless chin. So much complexity in so little dough. Who can resist the sensation of their fork spearing it perfectly down the middle? Who does not feel fancy when, on the couch at 3:00 AM, they can shovel tiny bowties into their mouth doused in cheap marinara sauce? Do not underestimate the power of Farfalle. Perhaps if Icarus’ wings were made of an enlarged Farfalle instead of feathers and wax, he would still be with us today. R.I.P. Number Two.


(1) Elbow

How funny is it that Elbow Pasta should rank Number One? The pieces don’t even look like elbows. In fact, they look like smiles (or frowns, depending on the day). Still, we call them Elbows, and despite the irrationality of their name, they fill each pasta bowl with hope. They do not hide from what they are, nor are they ashamed of what they are not. They are the Mozart of pasta, except better, because they only need an audience of one. You. Thank you, Elbow. Thank you for being there when I was sick, when I was healthy, when I was young, and when I was sad. I will not forget my first bite.Ever. You, my ancient muse, have earned yourself Number One.



This article was written by Daniel T. Dodaro, the author of Death, the Gardener.

All stories begin and end with a question. It is up to each and every one of us to discover what that question is.




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