Farfalle Pasta

Published November 1, 2003. From Cook's Illustrated.

Can American brands compete with pricey Italian imports?

Overview:

After two spaghetti tastings (spanning some seven years), we were confident that when it came to pasta, pricey imported brands just weren't worth it. The same American brand topped both our 1994 and our 2001 tastings, handily beating more expensive Italian entries. But what about more esoteric pasta shapes, like farfalle (shaped like a bow tie or butterfly)? Can an American company make a better farfalle than those that invented it?

After tasting seven brands of farfalle, we can safely say yes. This time our winner was the self-proclaimed "America's Favorite Pasta." We tasted each pasta plain, cooked in lightly salted water to al dente. Our last-place finisher was also our most expensive; at $4.95, it cost five times as much as our winner. Tasters found it "sticky," "gummy," and "flavorless."

The bottom line: Money may buy you fancy packaging, but it doesn't buy you better pasta.

After two spaghetti tastings (spanning some seven years), we were confident that when it came to pasta, pricey imported brands just weren't worth it. The same American brand topped both our 1994 and our 2001 tastings, handily beating more expensive Italian entries. But what about more esoteric pasta shapes, like farfalle (shaped like a bow tie or butterfly)? Can an American company make a better farfalle than those that invented it?

After tasting seven brands of farfalle, we can safely say yes. This time our winner was the self-proclaimed "America's Favorite Pasta." We tasted each pasta plain, cooked in lightly salted water to al dente. Our last-place finisher was also our most expensive; at $4.95, it cost five times as much as our winner. Tasters found it "sticky," "gummy," and "flavorless."

The bottom line: Money may buy you fancy packaging, but it doesn't buy you better pasta.

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