Italian Language Blog

Pasta – part 1 Posted by on Sep 18, 2010 in Culture

If you follow my blogs you will know that I generally prefer to write about the less stereotypical, or well known aspects of Italian culture. So why write about something so simple and obvious as pasta, we all know what it is, right?

Try typing the word ‘pasta’ into the Google search engine and you will get about 47,500,000 results, hmmm, where do we begin?

The word pasta is related to the verb impastare (to mix, to knead, to work into a dough):

impastare il pane to knead the bread dough
impastare il cemento, ecc. to mix the cement, etc.

Pasta means ‘dough’ or ‘paste’, hence:

fare la pasta to make dough, or pastry
lavorare la pasta to knead the dough
pasta dentifricia toothpaste
pasta d’acciughe anchovy paste
pasta di legno wood pulp (paste)
pastafrolla short crust pastry
pasticceria pastry maker, or confectionary shop
pastaio pasta maker, or seller

Last but not least we have the famous culinary ingredient, or dish, which is more or less synonymous with la cucina Italiana (Italian cuisine): la pasta.

When we talk about a pasta dish, as opposed to the ingredient itself, we often use the term pastasciutta (literally: dry pasta). This can be quite confusing for foreigners because pastasciutta isn’t necessarily dry. For example, a dish such as pasta al pesto, or pasta al pomodoro is commonly called a pastasciutta, e.g.: 

cosa vuoi  per pranzo oggi? what do you want for lunch today?
quasi quasi mi va una pastasciutta I rather fancy a pastasciutta
allora ti faccio pasta al tonno, va bene? I’ll make you a pasta with tuna then, o.k.?

So why do we call it pastasciutta if it isn’t actually dry? The answer is, in order to differentiate it from pasta in brodo (soup with pasta in it), which is decidedly wet!

Oh, and by the way:

qualcuno a cui piace molto la pastasciutta si chiama un pastasciuttaio

we call someone who really likes pastasciutta a ‘pastasciuttaio’

In part 2 of this blog I’ll be exploring the history of pasta.

Rimanete sintonizzati!

Tags: , , ,
Keep learning Italian with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it


  1. John Puglia:

    Dove mi trovo una recipe di “Strozzapreti (Priest Strangler) con spincio e ricotta”? Ho trovato questo frase nella 24 Septembre blog.

Leave a comment: