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Pasta and More Pasta


The most immediate image that comes to mind when hearing the noun pasta is a nice plate of it, at the table. When we say la pasta, we're referring, more often than not, to the dish we know and love.



But in Italian, pasta means other things as well. In fact, pasta refers to something that has been impastato (kneaded, mixed into a dough or paste at some point). Think of the similarity of pasta and “paste.” Think of the simple paste you can make with flour and water. That’s a kind of pasta, or dough.


A recent video at Yabla is a further episode about a shop in Rome that specializes in gift packaging, and personalized gifts made of carta (paper), cartone (cardboard), but also tessuto (cloth/fabric) and pasta modellabile (modeling clay). Think “playdough” to get the connection.


Abbiamo una pasta sintetica.

We have a synthetic modeling clay.

Vendiamo una pasta sintetica nel negozio, infrangibile.

We sell synthetic modeling clay in the shop, shatterproof.

Caption 1, Professioni e mestieri - Belle Arti - La pasta modellabile

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Pasta sometimes means “dough.”


Quindi, si stende la pasta della pizza.

So, you spread out the pizza dough.

Caption 10, Antonio - presenta la Pizzeria Escopocodisera

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Dough is also called l’impasto (the dough). L’impasto can mean any mixture, usually a bit thick.


L'impasto della pizza è composto da: acqua, farina, lievito e sale.

The pizza dough is made of: water, flour, yeast, and salt.

Caption 6, Antonio - presenta la Pizzeria Escopocodisera

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When people talk about pasta asciutta, what do they mean? It literally means “dry pasta.” You might think it’s the opposite of fresh pasta (usually, but not always, made with eggs and flour). But no, it means “not in broth.” There may be a sauce, but the pasta dish can be eaten with a fork, not a spoon.


Eh, quindi per esempio, la pasta asciutta,

Uh, so for example, pasta,

così apprezzata da, da tutta l'Italia...

so appreciated by, by all of Italy...

Caption 17, L'arte della cucina - I Luoghi del Mondo

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Even in olive oil production, we can refer to una pasta. It’s the resulting paste from crushing the olives.


Le olive vengono frantumate, cioè spappolate,

The olives are crushed, that is, they become a mush,

nocciolo e polpa insieme e ne risulta una pasta chiara.

pit and pulp together, and the result is a light colored paste.

Captions 36-37, L'olio extravergine di oliva - Il frantoio

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Una pasta can also mean any kind of sweet roll that you have for colazione (breakfast) or spuntino (snack) when you’re in an Italian bar. Other names for this item are pezzo dolce (sweet piece) in Tuscany, or brioche (with various spellings, as it comes from the French), and cornetto (croissant) in various areas of Italy.

Pago un caffè e due paste.
I’ll pay for a coffee and two sweet rolls.

Now you know there’s more to pasta than just spaghetti!


For pasta recipes on Yabla, here are a few:


Adriano shows us how to make pasta alla carbonara.


Three little cooks prepare a delicious pasta dish dedicated to the tricolore (the Italian flag).


Here’s a personal pasta recipe presented by Arianna.


Buon appetito and have fun making things out of pasta modellabile!


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