Italian pasta, in some ways, is simple. It’s also a marvel. What starts as a basic dough—often made with nothing more than flour and water—can be formed into hundreds of shapes, with more than 1,300 names. Although no supermarket stocks all of them, the options can still be staggering. Many product packages also tout special ingredients such as “durum wheat flour” or pasta-making terms such as “cut with bronze dies” and “slow dried,” which might not be familiar to every shopper. Once you get the pasta home, there are more questions. How do you cook perfect pasta? Which sauces pair best with which shapes? We’ve developed hundreds of pasta recipes and taste-tested all sorts of varieties and shapes, and we’re here to shed a bit more light on pasta’s history, its terminology, and how to prepare it perfectly.