Debunking Pasta Myths, Part I
There are a number of myths that have developed around the so-called correct procedures and ways to cook pasta. Let's look at a few and set the record straight. Some people believe that it is better to break long pastas such as spaghetti, fettuccine, linguine and bucatini into smaller pieces before placing into boiling water. Not so! Let's face it, if these pastas were better short, they would have been made that way. Besides if they were made in shorter pieces they would be much more difficult to eat. These pastas were made to be swirled onto a fork. Another myth has it that olive oil should be added to the pasta water to prevent the pasta from sticking together. Properly cooked in boiling water pasta will never stick together. So don't do it. When you add your sauce and toss with the pasta which has been cooked in olive oil and water, the sauce will slide off the pasta. Throwing pasta against a wall to determine its doneness is another myth. Go ahead and throw it against a wall. If it actually sticks, it is probably overdone and will be gummy. Testing for doneness is best achieved by biting into a strand or piece. The pasta should offer some resistance with no hard center. 'Al dente' as the Italians say.