One of you asked:
What are your thoughts on wholewheat pasta? Same rules apply? (apart from colour, obviously!). do Italians even eat wholewheat pasta?!
Thanks for the question, Becky. The short answer is: yes, the same rules apply, apart from the fact that wholewheat has a darker colour. Regarding what we Italians do, I think the answer is worthy a short note.
First, whole wheat pasta is not a tradition, rather an invention of marketing, and quite a recent one.
Second, the selling proposition of whoewheat pasta is that it should be healthier and less caloric, which is why you will find it in the “diet” section. Less caloric? This is plain nonsense. You want to diet, you quit pasta altogether. Why? I was at the supermarket today, and I’m a product info geek. A whole wheat pasta has 356 Kcal per 100g (dry weight). A normal pasta has 360 Kcal per 100g (dry weight). Whole wheat is about 1% less caloric than traditional pasta. Fat chance.
So, unless you eat a chilo (dry weight) or so of pasta per day, each day, the difference in caloric intake is less than one rigatone per day. Frankly, not worth the bother; plus, if you eat that much pasta you have more serious problems than eating one less rigatone per day.
As for improved healthiness, don’t even mention that. Whole wheat is richer in fibers. But fibers belong in pasta as they do in buttermilk. We’ll take my fibers with my veggies and my fruit, thank you very much. Whole wheat has also about 1% more protein. And also about 1% more ashes. I do not think anybody outside marketing can claim a 1% difference as significant.
Now, let’s get to the core issue: the only reason worth making distinctions in food. To most Italians (with the exception of diet-food fans), whole wheat pasta tastes worse and has a spongier feel and a sawdust-like texture that does not add to the value of the dish.
As always, it’s a matter of taste.