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The Caterer

Book review – The Geometry of Pasta

10 December 2010 by
Book review – The Geometry of Pasta

The Geometry of Pasta
By Caz Hildebrand and Jacob Kenedy
Boxtree, £14.99
ISBN 978-0752227375

Unless you're Italian or a pasta expert you'd probably be hard pressed to list more than the usual dozen or so shapes of pasta available in the UK. This is where The Geometry of Pasta comes in as a useful encyclopaedia.

What differentiates this book from other pasta cookbooks is that in addition to providing recipes - compiled by Bocca di Lupo chef-proprietor Jacob Kenedy - it teaches readers about the huge variety of pasta types.

There are said to be more than 300 shapes of pasta in Italy - each different in its makeup according to its region. For instance, while in the poorer south of Italy pastes of semolina and water are shaped by hand into chunky forms, in south-central Italy the same dough is extruded by machine into shapes of varying complexity.

Meanwhile, in the north-central part of the country expensive egg yolks and refined flour are used to make pasta and further north the flour is often replaced with other starches such as rye or buckwheat.

In addition to the different ingredients and shapes, each pasta type also has its own history and affinity to particular ingredients. And according to co-author, designer Caz Hildebrand, this is where the idea for the book came from in the first place: the Italians' obsession with combining a particular shape of pasta with the right sauce.

Ranging from the most common of pastas such as spaghetti, penne and pappardelle to rarities such as chifferi, maltagliati or pizzoccheri, The Geometry of Pasta gives extensive background information on each different type of pasta - listing its history, science and philosophy while also suggesting suitable sauces, with more than 100 recipes from Kenedy.

Each chapter is illustrated by Hildebrand's black and white designs and although the book's lack of photography may put you off at first, its unique approach and rich content more than makes up for this.

This book took Hildebrand five years from concept to print and it is quite clearly a labour of love. If you want to learn everything you can about pasta, with authentic recipes from throughout Italy, The Geometry Of Pasta is all you need.

If you like this, you'll love these:

Pasta by Theo Randall

â- The Silver Spoon: Pasta by Various

â- Made in Italy by Giorgio Locatelli

â- The Italian Cookery Course by Katie Caldesi

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