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The Geometry of Pasta Hardcover – September 15, 2010

4.3 out of 5 stars 61 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: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,533 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
So, this is a difficult cookbook. I really like the way the text is written (chatty, relaxed, friendly). I like the graphics. I like the recipes, but the cookbooks major flaws are that it has no index by ingredient nor comprehensive list of recipe by pasta shape. Some of the negative reviews are because there is no ingredient index. If the name of the sauce includes the ingredient as the first word in the title, you are all a go, but if it is the second word, no go on the index. I have fennel, I love fennel, Italians love fennel. I am sure there are half a dozen recipes with fennel, but finding them is a little challenging. The explanation is right in the introduction. The author's friend, a graphic artist, came to him and said "lets do a cookbook with my art". So this is the first cookbook for both I think. Good recipes, but no ingredient index. Other negative reviews are because of the graphics. I have seen most of these shapes before, so I find the graphical representation intriguing. And there were a few negative reviews are because of the organization. The book is organized on the concept that the pasta shape guides the sauce selection. So the book is organized alphabetically by pasta shape and the sauces that work well with them. But then a sauce works well with many shapes, that is noted on each recipe, but again locating that recipe is by luck alone. So, to make this a really good cookbook, just put in two indexes at the end - 1) ingredient index, 2) shape index - every recipe in the book that goes with Spaghetti, not just the three in the spaghetti section. But overall I like the book.
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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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