This is The Plethora of Pasta Permutations, over 250 illustrations of pastas.

They’re categorized for easy digestion (sorry for the pun).

And it’s fascinating to see how pasta types are so interrelated.

But it’s the specificity that can be so astounding, like vermicelli vs. spaghetti and everything in between. Chefs and eaters both have the most nuanced of tastes.

Torchio (far left) is a fascinating noodle. It’s designed with a big, hooked scoop that’s built to latch onto chunks in sauce to create a flavorful, wet bite.

So often, it’s difficult to understand how designers sweat the smallest details. But anyone can tell the difference between all of these tubed pastas--even though they’re made out of the same ingredients in largely the same way.

And in this regard, pasta becomes a fascinating case study for all design.

It’s form and function, nuance driving experience.

On a side note: For years I thought that "farfalle" translated to "bow tie." Actually, it means "butterfly"--which is far more beautiful if you don’t think of it as eating a plate of bugs.

And the shapes of knife-cut pastas are surprisingly soft and organ-like compared to their triangular and square cousins.

250 Pastas You Should Eat Before You Die

Atkins? The Paleo Diet? Those have no place here, amidst a beautiful mega illustration of over 250 types of pasta.

Why does pasta have ridges? There’s actually a great reason: Ridges help sauce stick, but it’s so much more complicated than that. The experience of eating fusilli versus farfalle is fundamentally different due to mouthfeel, surface area, and the ever-fascinating sauce-to-noodle ratio. So even though most Italian pastas are made from the same basic ingredients, there are countless varieties of pasta that are unique.

Now, you can become far better acquainted with over 250 versions of pasta, featured in Pop Chart Lab’s latest print, The Plethora of Pasta Permutations. Like all of the studio’s mega illustrations, this piece on pasta is organized categorically, sorting machine-made and handmade, tubes and triangles, and every semi-related permutation in between. Amidst the tempting carbohydrates, you can even discover a bit of history, as pasta shapes have often reflected the culture they fed.

"My favorite is the Dischi Volanti, which translates to ‘Flying Saucers,’" explains Pop Chart Lab Editorial Director Patrick Mulligan. "In the UFO craze of the '50s an enterprising pasta maker came up with a way to extrude these saucer shapes. There’s also Marziani, so named because they resemble the antennae of movie Martians."

For much of their research, Pop Chart Lab turned to the Encyclopedia of Pasta. It’s one of a few fascinating books on the topic of pasta design, which shouldn’t exclude The Geometry of Pasta or Pasta by Design. Whether you’re a food or design geek, it’s fascinating to learn that pastas like torchio are designed to actually grab the big pieces floating inside a chunky sauce just to provide a more satisfying bite. So often, it’s difficult to understand how designers sweat the smallest details. But anyone can tell the difference between each of these pastas, no matter how granular the variations in ridges, tubes, or length may be.

Noodles really are an amazing platform of innovation within the food world, single-serving objects of near endless variety, crafted for the infinite expanse of niche experience.

The Plethora of Pasta Permutations is available now for $32.

Buy it here.

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3 Comments

  • Tiana Kai

    I live in Italy and have probably only had 10-12 types! Mamma mia, 240 more, bring it. 

  • DifferentStripes

    Occasionally I'll go to a decent Italian restaurant, which means they don't have pictures on the menu. This would be a handy cheat-sheet, albeit a bit large...

  • James Taylor

    Can anyone tell me the difference between penne lisce and mostaccioli? When I lived in Italy I only ever heard of penne lisce — here in New York I've found boxes of Barilla mostaccioli. As far as I can tell the two products are identical, but I see they are each represented on this chart.