While it’s not true that pasta first came to Italy from China with Marco Polo, it did travel across the world due to its portability. It was in Italy that pasta was made into an art form, and there are way more pasta shapes than most Americans have ever heard of. Each of these pasta shapes has a story, although some are old and historically murky and others are recent and well-documented, such as Celentano and cavatappi.
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Cavatappi didn’t arrive on the scene until the 1960s. That’s when the Italian pasta brand Barilla introduced a new tubular, corkscrew-shaped pasta called Cellentani. The name is a reference to Adriano Celentano, an Italian pop singer whose energetic stage presence earned him the nickname moleggiato, or “springs.” Barilla writes on its website: “As the shape resembles a coiled spring, it all made sense.” The name cavatappi was actually coined later as a generic term for the pasta shape because Celentano was trademarked by Barilla.
You are probably already familiar with Adriano Celentano. Read the stories behind 14 other pasta shapes, and a brief history of pasta in general at Mental Floss. While the list will introduce you to new pastas, the origin stories are not totally comprehensive. For example, Wikipedia tells us exactly how Cellentani came about.
This particular shape was born in the 1970s at Barilla in Parma when a set of pasta dies had been mistakenly made with a spiral (instead of straight) set of lines. These produced pasta in a spiral or spring (molla in Italian) shape.
So consider the list at Mental Floss to be a portal that may take you down the internet rabbit hole. That’s what happened to me.
(Image credit: Francesco Foglieri)