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The Geometry of Pasta Hardcover – September 15, 2010

56 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. One would think that a minimalist cookbook devoid of photography wouldn't be worthy of coffee table status, but the illustrations adorning this volume prove otherwise. Conceived by award-winning graphic designer Hildebrand, who has designed cookbooks for Nigella Lawson and others, the diversity of pasta morphology, from Agnolotti to Ziti, is revealed through historical anecdotes, recipes, and an eye-catching b&w aesthetic. The book starts with the basics, demystified: salt, fat, cooking, and quantity. Kenedy then covers dry vs. fresh, and provides recipes for several pastas and for three authentic sauces that form the foundation for many of the sauces in the book. From the obscure story of Strozzapreti ("priest stranglers") to the humorous warming red pepper and whiskey sauce for Radiatore pasta, or "radiators," one learns how shapes are created to maximize surface area and sauce delivery. The ingredients needed for over 200 sauce preparations run the gamut from obscure (Lumace alla Lumache, or Snails with Snails) to the near pedestrian, like Frankfurters and Fontina, a recommended pairing with the wheel shaped Rotelline, "a complex, arguably uninspired shape that was only possible with the advancement of the pasta industries mechanization," an advancement that was apparently "much lauded by the Fascists." An instant classic. Illus.


“Stylish, greed-inducing, knowledgeable, and witty; an instant classic.”—Nigella Lawson

“Really delicious, authentic pasta recipes”—Jamie Oliver

“Walks the line between functional cookbook and coffee-table eye candy.”—Food & Wine

“An instant classic.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

“The Geometry of Pasta is like no other cookbook you’ve ever seen. Mangia, mangia!”—Christian Science Monitor

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Quirk Books; 1st edition (September 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594744955
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594744952
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.4 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,164 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 65 people found the following review helpful By emmejay VINE VOICE on August 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover
As the full title states, "The Perfect Shape + The Perfect Sauce = THE GEOMETRY OF PASTA," so the talents of book designer Caz Hildebrand + London chef Jacob Kenedy = this terrific book.

Part history-of-pasta and part cookbook, it begins with an overview of pastas (southern Italian peasants' plain semolina to wealthy northerners' incorporation of egg and different starches) and tomato sauces (also varying from light to rich), and the concept of matching the delicacy/sturdiness of a pasta to that of a sauce. And then comes that geometry -- the actual pairings of those shapes and sauces via a 270-page alphabetic encyclopedia of dozens and dozens of pasta shapes, including:

* A short history of each pasta (referencing climate, culture and politics/economics), for example that intricate pastas were made "when housewives had to fill long winter evenings," and the delicate and haughty pastas of the Renaissance, which "specialist nuns would make in their convents";
* A b/w graphic of its shape (see page samples near the book's cover image, above);
* In some cases, recipes for making that shape of pasta at home;
* In all cases, recipes for sauces/fillings suited to that shape;
* Suggestions for other sauces (an Index makes it easy to locate sauce recipes).

I'd expected this book to be glossy and slightly oversized, so was surprised to find it the size and construction of a hardcover novel. While that doesn't sound like a book to be taken into the kitchen and later wiped down, you'll want to do so -- it contains recipes for every level of cook, from quick sauces with a few common ingredients, to sauces involving a dozen ingredients and progressive steps that are mini-tutorials in cooking technique.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Suzie Ridler on November 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I have never seen a book like "The Geometry of Pasta" before. A graphic design inspired book about pasta? Black and white, no photographs and yet illustrated artistically and accurately. This book was clearly created by people who care deeply about pasta, who have studied it from all angles and perhaps obsess about it, just a little? Which is not a bad thing!

I tested several of the recipes and for the most part, were wonderful and delicious. I still wonder why recipes like the medium tomato sauce, which clearly the author is not a fan of, were included in the book. Yet it is that honesty and casual approach to the writing I enjoyed immensely.

Although the book may appear clinical, I assure you, it is not. There is personality throughout. I for one will treasure my copy. I have been looking for a book on pasta dishes that range from the simple to the complex. It has the beautiful simple pasta recipe you associate with genius of Italian cooking, yet there are also recipes that use oxtail and rabbit for the more adventurous and bold cook. Either way, there is a lot for everyone to explore and enjoy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By D. McMay on December 20, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I got this for a friend of mine. The recipes are interesting and the way it combines the way pasta is designed with particular sauces that accompany it best is fantastic! The only thing that I'd add is that if you want a book that LOOKS nice and would be an equally good gift, Pasta By Design is a much more elegantly laid out book, it has color photos and graphs of the trigonometry of the pasta shapes. I didn't feel the recipes were as good, but Pasta by Design included exact math formulas for each shape and elegant graphics. So, for math purists, I'd say Pasta by Design. For people who are more about cooking and find the math interesting, I'd go with The Geometry of Pasta
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By P. Rollins on December 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book is in black and while, exclusively. There are no photos of the food you are reading about, nor of the recipes you are cooking from. The book DOES, however have an extraordinary WEALTH in information on the forms and kinds of pasta available (or not) to you. The information was easy to read, clear and amazing.

What I loved about reading this was how GREAT and KNOWLEDGEABLE if made me feel at every cocktail and dinner part I have attended this holiday season. Food is very popular talk at these functions and knowing these small and obscure facts made me the "go to", almost the "Martha Stewart" of the soiree.

I also thought the dishes presented have been very good, although I have only cooked maybe 5 so far. But don't think this is the throw-all-you-other-cookbooks-away book. The recipes are PART of this book, not really the focus.

The best take-away from the book is the information you can fall back on when you are standing in front of an obnoxiously-large array of pasta choices at your grocers. Now I don't just stand there and "eaney, meaney, miney, moe" with my eyes closed. I can actually make a decision and it will be delicious.

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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By R. Klinger on November 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I had an abundance of ripe tomatoes, which I wasn't sure what to do with. After making loads of salsa this summer, I thought I'd try to make my very own fresh tomato sauce, and this book came in very handy for that! I looked for a fresh, simple sauce and decided on the Penne All'arrabbiata (Spicy Tomato Sauce). It was very simple, and had no canned ingredients whatsoever, which was exactly what I wanted. And it was delicious! I can't wait to try another sauce to go with the random types of pasta I have in the cabinet. And I love the funny comments by the author, such as "Best served without cheese in my opinion, rather a drizzle of oil. Some would disagree (they should use pecorino Romano, but given their dubious taste are probably sprinkling Parmesan)."

There is no need for the slick photos most cookbooks are using these days. I think it's very easy to just pick the type of pasta you want, and then there are several recipes for the sauces that will go perfectly with them. Or the other way around. Its design is, likewise, simple and cool-looking. It makes me feel like I look like a serious cook, when I'm really only an amateur.
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