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The Geometry of Pasta

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Wheels and tubes, twists and folds and grooves—pasta comes in hundreds of shapes, each with its own unique history, beauty, and place on the dinner table. For centuries these shapes have evolved alongside Italy’s cornucopia of local ingredients; if you know how the flavours relate to the forms, you hold the secret formula to good taste.   The Geometry of Pasta pairs over 10 Wheels and tubes, twists and folds and grooves—pasta comes in hundreds of shapes, each with its own unique history, beauty, and place on the dinner table. For centuries these shapes have evolved alongside Italy’s cornucopia of local ingredients; if you know how the flavours relate to the forms, you hold the secret formula to good taste.   The Geometry of Pasta pairs over 100 authentic recipes from acclaimed chef Jacob Kenedy with award-winning designer Caz Hildebrand’s stunning black-and-white designs to reveal the science, culture, and philosophy behind spectacular pasta dishes from throughout Italian history.   A triumphant fusion of food and design, The Geometry of Pasta invites us to unlock the hidden properties of Italy’s most mathematically perfect deliciousness. 


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Wheels and tubes, twists and folds and grooves—pasta comes in hundreds of shapes, each with its own unique history, beauty, and place on the dinner table. For centuries these shapes have evolved alongside Italy’s cornucopia of local ingredients; if you know how the flavours relate to the forms, you hold the secret formula to good taste.   The Geometry of Pasta pairs over 10 Wheels and tubes, twists and folds and grooves—pasta comes in hundreds of shapes, each with its own unique history, beauty, and place on the dinner table. For centuries these shapes have evolved alongside Italy’s cornucopia of local ingredients; if you know how the flavours relate to the forms, you hold the secret formula to good taste.   The Geometry of Pasta pairs over 100 authentic recipes from acclaimed chef Jacob Kenedy with award-winning designer Caz Hildebrand’s stunning black-and-white designs to reveal the science, culture, and philosophy behind spectacular pasta dishes from throughout Italian history.   A triumphant fusion of food and design, The Geometry of Pasta invites us to unlock the hidden properties of Italy’s most mathematically perfect deliciousness. 

30 review for The Geometry of Pasta

  1. 4 out of 5

    Eliza

    6/14/2012: I love the title, and I was hoping this book would regale me with pasta history and stories about the huge variety of pasta shapes and names. There's a bit of this (why are strozzapreti--"priest stranglers"--so named? what is the derivation of the word "gnocchi"?). But really, TGOP is a combination cookbook and art book, a dictionary of pasta types with recipes that work well for each type, with each kind of pasta represented with black and white graphic representations. The writing i 6/14/2012: I love the title, and I was hoping this book would regale me with pasta history and stories about the huge variety of pasta shapes and names. There's a bit of this (why are strozzapreti--"priest stranglers"--so named? what is the derivation of the word "gnocchi"?). But really, TGOP is a combination cookbook and art book, a dictionary of pasta types with recipes that work well for each type, with each kind of pasta represented with black and white graphic representations. The writing is wonderfully precise yet relaxed, especially in the recipes; I appreciate this because I've been noticing lately how few recipes are well-written, and what a difference that makes in trying to follow instructions. And the graphics are gorgeous, luxuriating in shape and repetition, presenting every kind of pasta I could (or couldn't) imagine in an elegant and artistic way. I haven't tried any of the recipes yet, but I will; some of them are incredibly basic, some use impossibly obscure or off-putting ingredients, but there are still quite a few that sound interesting and manageable. We'll see.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Every recipe that I made from this book was delicious! I especially liked the pesto and the spicy tomato sausage sauce. Some of the recipes are more advanced than others; I haven't made the leap to cleaning my own rabbits yet, and some of the pastas do require advanced equipment. I don't think I'll use over half of the recipes in this book, but the ones that I do like have become my go-tos. If you're looking for a book that really talks about the geometry of pasta, though - beyond a couple senten Every recipe that I made from this book was delicious! I especially liked the pesto and the spicy tomato sausage sauce. Some of the recipes are more advanced than others; I haven't made the leap to cleaning my own rabbits yet, and some of the pastas do require advanced equipment. I don't think I'll use over half of the recipes in this book, but the ones that I do like have become my go-tos. If you're looking for a book that really talks about the geometry of pasta, though - beyond a couple sentence-long anecdotes about a few of the shapes - you're out of luck. The author and illustrator really missed a chance to tell some more stories about the origins of pasta types. They're great about noting which region of Italy they come from and what sauce goes well with which pasta, but there's not much here in terms of narrative. (And yes, I do like to spend my spare time reading about food.)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Lee Broderick

    Part recipe book, part food history and part design exercise; this book was an absolute delight. Apparently the dream project of Caz Hildebrand, a graphic designer, she sought out Jacob Kenedy to provide the text and recipes. The book is ordered alphabetically, with each modern style of Italian pasta represented by its own entry. These entries give a brief description and history of the pasta together with a stark, bold black and white illustration of the pasta shape drawn to life size. Accompany Part recipe book, part food history and part design exercise; this book was an absolute delight. Apparently the dream project of Caz Hildebrand, a graphic designer, she sought out Jacob Kenedy to provide the text and recipes. The book is ordered alphabetically, with each modern style of Italian pasta represented by its own entry. These entries give a brief description and history of the pasta together with a stark, bold black and white illustration of the pasta shape drawn to life size. Accompanying these entries are the physical dimensions of the pasta, synonyms, instructions on how to make it (if it's a fresh pasta) and between one and six recipes ideally paired with the pasta. These recipes are a mixture of the ultra traditional and Kenedy's own creations (Kenedy is the restauranteur and chef behind Soho's highly praised Bocca di Lupo). Other suitable pastas are suggested next to each recipe, and these are cross-referenced by listing the sauces on the page of the main entry of the pasta in question. All in all, this is stylish, well thought out and full of delicious recipes.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Justin

    As an expat in Naples, I have eaten an authentic Italian pasta dish, or two. Although there are other, better, general purpose books on Italian (and Neapolitan) cooking, this book excels in the narrowness of its focus - pasta and the accompanying sauce, only. This book - much like the average Italian supermercato - has more varieties of pasta and sauce than the average American could possibly recognize. This book also demonstrates the traditional pairings of sauce, ingredients, and pasta type, a As an expat in Naples, I have eaten an authentic Italian pasta dish, or two. Although there are other, better, general purpose books on Italian (and Neapolitan) cooking, this book excels in the narrowness of its focus - pasta and the accompanying sauce, only. This book - much like the average Italian supermercato - has more varieties of pasta and sauce than the average American could possibly recognize. This book also demonstrates the traditional pairings of sauce, ingredients, and pasta type, as well as alternatives. In short, if you love Italian, this is the ultimate pasta cookbook. Unlike the modern cookbook, half coffee table photography book, half travelogue, this cookbook is something of a throwback or departure. The illustrations are all in black and white, more akin to a technical or engineering manual than a cookbook. And this in and of itself adds to the book's mystique. If you are a pasta once a week cook, or alternately, a die-hard Italian aficionado, you should do yourself a favor and add this to your collection.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    This is a curious book. I was curious about all the different names for all the different shapes of Italian pasta so I bought this text. Now I am even more confused. It seems that each region in Italy has its own name for many of the classic pasta shapes. Jacob Kenedy, who runs an Italian restaurant in London, wrote an excellent text detailing the history of each shape, describing how it is made, and suggesting a few recipes in which to use each. Caz Hildebrand drew remarkable black-and-white gr This is a curious book. I was curious about all the different names for all the different shapes of Italian pasta so I bought this text. Now I am even more confused. It seems that each region in Italy has its own name for many of the classic pasta shapes. Jacob Kenedy, who runs an Italian restaurant in London, wrote an excellent text detailing the history of each shape, describing how it is made, and suggesting a few recipes in which to use each. Caz Hildebrand drew remarkable black-and-white graphics to illustrate each entry. The book is fun to read, e.g. in one recipe, Kennedy says "gradually add the milk, stirring maniacally with a wooden spoon" and "Let it sit for ten minutes before serving, or someone will get hurt." The book is worth the price for the suggestions of sauces perfectly paired with the pastas alone.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Woodland Animal

    Not as clever as one would think.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Helen

    3.5 stars. This is a pleasure to read, wittily written and clearly the author is very knowledgeable. It's an A-Z of pasta shapes, with some history and factual information, including which sort of pasta goes best with which sort of sauce. There are recipes, too - some which look delicious and fairly easy, and some which are full of, shall we say, challenging ingredients? (the intestines of dead calves with the mother's milk still inside, bleurgh). I'm not enough of a real cook to face all the of 3.5 stars. This is a pleasure to read, wittily written and clearly the author is very knowledgeable. It's an A-Z of pasta shapes, with some history and factual information, including which sort of pasta goes best with which sort of sauce. There are recipes, too - some which look delicious and fairly easy, and some which are full of, shall we say, challenging ingredients? (the intestines of dead calves with the mother's milk still inside, bleurgh). I'm not enough of a real cook to face all the offal and shellfish (or chop the heads off things which are still alive) but I'm tempted to try some of the others. The artistic black and white illustrations are interesting, although I did feel that if it's a pasta shape you haven't ever seen before you are not much wiser.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Danielle Lowe

    Really enjoyed reading through the different types of pasta and the history of how they came to be and/or vary from seemingly similar styles. After much reading and mmming at the idea of so many different types of pasta and sauce there are 35 different recipes I want to try and they will no doubt inspire me to try more in the future. the artwork in this book is also incredible and the clean lines and shapes with black and white contrast is something that I greatly appreciate in this book.

  9. 5 out of 5

    David

    Graphical images really help to explain the different pasta shapes, and they look amazing. The history and recipes of each shape are wonderful. Great for a deep-dive into pasta and its many varieties.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Flying Off The Shelves

    Little known fact about your favorite reviewer: I love to cook and I adore pasta. When I found that Quirk Books had put this up for review I couldn't be more excited. I always wondered why there were so many types of pasta and what each one was used for technically. This book did not disappoint at all. For every type of pasta I knew and even some I didn't the authors included a history of it's creation and how you would prepare it. This isn't just the case of which pasta you use with which sauce Little known fact about your favorite reviewer: I love to cook and I adore pasta. When I found that Quirk Books had put this up for review I couldn't be more excited. I always wondered why there were so many types of pasta and what each one was used for technically. This book did not disappoint at all. For every type of pasta I knew and even some I didn't the authors included a history of it's creation and how you would prepare it. This isn't just the case of which pasta you use with which sauce but actually how to make the pasta! Learning how to make pasta has been on my bucket list for eons and now I have the tools to actually do it! The recipes are clear and precise unlike many which are a pinch of this or that. Included in the history was also an explanation of its name which was really fun. The recipes are also paired with really neat designs which is cute and pretty but I would have liked a couple of color pictures as well. The reason for this is that although I knew some of the pastas I didn't know them all and some of the designs weren't clear enough for me to be able to pick out the pasta in a store. My only other negative criticism about this book is the inclusion of stelline (stars) in broth and alfabeto (alphabets) with ketchup in the recipes. The reason I am not thrilled about these additions is because the space they used could have been used for other not so common uses of these pastas which I would have liked. All in all, great cookbook with many new and classic recipes. I rate this book at a high three for it was entirely enjoyable and fun addition to my cookbook library. And since it is the season of gifts this is a great pre-holiday gift (that way the cook you give this to might make one of these yummy recipes for their holiday party!). Reason I Read This Book: The publisher requested a review and I was interested in the idea of the shape of pasta affecting recipes. What a curious notion! Read more reviews at http://flyingofftheshelves.blogspot.c...

  11. 5 out of 5

    Greg

    Useless.. More like a reference, for looking up recipes based on the type of pasta you’re holding in your hand (the book is organized by type of pasta). What I wanted was a book that would be more of a guide, explain how all the different types of pasta evolved, and how to use the shapes of pasta. Instead, what it is is an encyclopedia, where you first look up the type of pasta, then get a brief rundown on it, followed by recipes for that pasta. I want a pasta book, not another damn recipe book. Useless.. More like a reference, for looking up recipes based on the type of pasta you’re holding in your hand (the book is organized by type of pasta). What I wanted was a book that would be more of a guide, explain how all the different types of pasta evolved, and how to use the shapes of pasta. Instead, what it is is an encyclopedia, where you first look up the type of pasta, then get a brief rundown on it, followed by recipes for that pasta. I want a pasta book, not another damn recipe book. Finally, worst of all, it doesn’t even have real pictures. Instead it has “artistic” silhouette graphics of the pasta, most of which don’t accurately depict it. If you know what it looks like, yes, you can see how the artist arrived at that particular rendering, but the graphics are useless if you’ve never seen that pasta before.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    This isn't exactly the book I thought it would be. It is a reciepe book for tons of different sauces. But more importantly, it is a book describing tons of pasta shapes. How to make them, or should you buy them, what sauce goes best with them, and the history of each shape. Coupled with the amazing illustrations of the pasta, this book is a wonderful addition to an italian lovers cookbook collection. Pick it up for the illustrations if nothing else.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Deb

    A fascinating book with gorgeous black and white graphics of pasta shapes instead of photos--it goes A to Z through more pastas than I ever knew existed, with the history and use of each shape, along with recipes. A tutorial on the basics of pasta making. If you are a pasta fan, this is one for your coffee table or bedside table, to savor the science, history and philosophy behind the different pasta shapes, Fascinating! I will be reviewing this on my blog next week with one of the recipes.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Dale

    I was expecting something scientific or abstract, but this is really an encyclopedic work on the hundreds of varieties of pasta and the practical matters of how to make them and how to prepare them. It is not quite a cookbook, though there are many recipes, but rather a sort of cook's reference book. This is a book to be kept on the kitchen bookshelf. It has a certain amount of browsing potential, but the pleasure is soon worn down by the sheer vastness of the subject.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Drying the pasta my flatmate and I made to go with the Wild Boar (or beef, as we couldn't find wild boar) ragu, both delicious recipes from this book. The illustrations are also lovely, it's a very stylish book :) Drying the pasta my flatmate and I made to go with the Wild Boar (or beef, as we couldn't find wild boar) ragu, both delicious recipes from this book. The illustrations are also lovely, it's a very stylish book :)

  16. 5 out of 5

    Vuk Trifkovic

    Fantastic book, though don't judge it as a straight cookbook. Recipes are good but not very unique or exclusive. Some might even be in Kenedy's other book. But the writing is witty, illustrations great and stories about each pasta shape engaging.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Pasta in plan! Pasta in section!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Aguess

    I haven't made any recipes yet - but this is a gorgeous cookbooks, full of delicious dreams for a winters night.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

    I have never made anything from this book that did not turn out absolutely delicious. it's not just pasta but includes countless sauces.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    Not what I was expecting, but still cute.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    This is a cool book. It covers tons of different types of pasta and how to make them, and includes lots of good recipes on what to do with it. I tried the walnut cream sauce already. It was good.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    Good looking, stylish book (not important), sparse, intelligent commentary (nice), quite a few interesting, well described recipes (important) but not that many (three stars).

  23. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    As heard on the NPR Books podcast. I read a little bit of this, and I think I got the point. As heard on the NPR Books podcast. I read a little bit of this, and I think I got the point.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Brittany

    In addition to being a cookbook, The Geometry of Pasta includes thoughtful explanations of the origins of pasta shapes, pasta and sauce recipes, and which pastas hold which sauces best.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ian Chadwick

    Good recipes and lovely design.

  26. 5 out of 5

    AJ

    I'm not really into the recipes in this book, but I loved the design, artwork, and the descriptions of each type of pasta.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lorraine

    Who knew there were so many types of pasta? Now I have some kind of idea of what pasta goes with what sauce. An interesting combination of the history of different types of pasta and recipes.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kim Knudsen

  29. 4 out of 5

    Laura

  30. 4 out of 5

    Cassandra

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