From restaurant menus to the grocery store aisle, you can find pasta in many shapes, from ears to elbows to bow ties. But they were all flawed in the eyes and mouth of award-winning podcast host Dan Pashman.
He is the creator and host of The Sporkful, a food podcast he created after being fired from his radio job. On the podcast, he began a five-part series called “Mission Unstable,” his quest to design a new form of pasta, hoping to put aside his least favorite noodle.
“I mean look. Spaghetti is fine. I’ll eat whatever pasta you put in front of me if I’m hungry. But it’s just a tube. Not long ago and I think we can do better,” Pashman told CBS News’ Nancy Chen.
Pashman’s search began at the source itself with a trip to North Dakota, home to most of the country’s wheat for pasta. That’s where he learned about semolina, the flour he used to make his pasta.
Throughout his journey to create the perfect pasta shape, Pashman created three metrics by which he judges all pasta shapes.
“So the ease for the bread, how easy is it to put it on the fork and keep it there? The one for the sauce. How easily does the sauce stick? The shapes are great at one or two of these three things. But very few do all three, “Pashman said.
Even armed with his own vocabulary, Pashman’s idea quickly proved more difficult than he ever imagined as he struggled to get a pasta dye company to take him seriously. Then he ran into another obstacle: the pasta shape he had designed turned out to be physically impossible.
“I wanted this combination of mafalda and bucatini, so that it had a tube component and a steering wheel component,” he said. “But the mass only passes through the dye for a fraction of a second.”
Pasta had taken over Pashman’s life when he invested nearly $ 10,000 of his own money in the project. He spent his time drawing pasta shapes on graph paper at his daughter’s soccer practice and stayed up at night thinking about pasta.
But thousands of pasta pieces later, those sketches became the real deal when the cascatelli was finally born inside the Sfoglini pasta factory in New York’s Hudson Valley. Cascatelli means waterfall in Italian.
Pashman’s pasta comes in a more extended cut than most short forms, making it easier to pick up with a fork. This is a ruffled bucatini half tube to create what he calls a “sauce trough” and something that is rare in pasta.
“You have these flywheels at a 90 ° angle. That means whichever direction you bite from, you’ll get resistance. You can sink your teeth into them,” he said.
Pashman’s new noodle did well for Angie Rito and Scott Tacinelli, the husband and wife team behind New York City’s prized Italian restaurant, Don Angie.
“I really like the texture. I think it’s … it holds the sauce really well and definitely sticks very well to the fork,” said Tacinelli.
Its pasta shape even earned a nonna stamp of approval. Maria Gialanella came to the United States in 1961 from Italy. He now works at Enoteca Maria in Staten Island. Most people call her Nonna Maria, nonna which means “grandmother” because she cooks for everyone as if they were part of her family.
“They’re fine, fine,” he said as he chewed on Pashman’s new noodle. “Not Beautiful.”
Pashman’s first batch of 3,700 cases of Cascatelli sold out online, but he told CBS News that more have been made and will be available to order on his website.