Just in time for pesto season, my son Wylie spotted a new pasta shape on the shelf at Bay Cities -- cannolicchi. Well, it was new to us, anyhow. Uncooked, it looks sort of like a screw without a head. We didn't realize it would be great for pesto, but when cooked, it unfurls, corkscrew-like, and it's just the thing for trapping the sauce.
I got curious, Googled the shape, and found my way to a wonderful website, the World Directory of Pasta. Here you can find hundreds of shapes -- their names, local synonyms, histories and where to find the dies that make them. There were six listings for cannolicchi -- cannolicchi grandi, cannolicchi grandi rigati, cannolicchi piccoli, etc. None looked anything like what I had bought -- they looked more like plain old maccheroni. But none of the links for the rigati versions worked, so who knows. (Maybe someone out there?)
It's a little hard to figure out who's behind the site, which is apparently an Italian one for pasta manufacturers; looks like it was put together by Nuova Editrice S.r.l. No help from the FAQ section, though the questions were fun. Especially Question No. 2: Is it possible to avoid the Maillard reaction? Sounds existential enough to ponder all day and all night.
Rustichella d'Abruzzo cannolicchi, $5.98 for 500 grams at Bay Cities Italian Deli, 1517 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica; (310) 395-8279.
-- Leslie Brenner
Photos by Leslie Brenner