Breaking the pasta code
There are more shapes of pasta than any one living person could possibly remember. And especially these days, it seems like every restaurant that serves the stuff tries to outdo its competitors by finding ever newer and stranger shapes (remember when strangolapreti -- "priest chokers" -- were cutting edge?). If you've ever puzzled over what, exactly, are the differences among gemelli, fusilli and spirali, a website called "Charming Italy" has put together a neat graphic. Granted, there are some quibbles. Why, for example, are ravioli -- of all things -- not included in the stuffed pasta category? And you'll search in vain for strangolapreti (or even strozzapreti). Still, it's pretty cool and if they only had one that would fit in your wallet, it would be even more useful.
-- Russ Parsons