Which pasta? Which shape? Consult “The Geometry of Pasta”

Found lurking on my bookshelf: my once lost cookbook “The Geometry of Pasta” by Caz Hildebrand and Jacob Kenedy (Quirk Books, Philadelphia, 2010, $24.95).

It was conceived by graphic designer Hildebrand, who kept “thinking about the Italians’ preoccupation with choosing the right pasta shape to go with the right sauce.”

To explore the concept further, he decided to do a book using simple geometric black-and-white drawings of the pasta shapes. And for the recipes, he approached Jacob Kenedy, co-founder of the Italian restaurant La Bocca di Lupo in London.

The design of the book is fantastic, but it’s actually Kenedy’s recipes that persuaded me to buy it. A few years ago when La Bocca di Lupofirst opened, I had the best Italian meal I’ve had outside Italy -- sublime salumi, wonderful pasta, artichoke alla giudia, scottadita.


I can still remember practically every bite of that meal. And just as vividly the still life paintings by Haidlee Becker that hang above the tables.

Back to the book: One or more recipes are given for each pasta shape, along with synonyms and more suggestions for sauces that work with that shape, drawn from other pages of the book. I’m intrigued by the agnolotti filling made not with the usual leftover pot roast, but with calves or lambs brains, veal, pork and half a head of escarole. How can that not be good?

I remember once that in Friuli a host made bigoli (a long thick tube) cooked in goose broth. Here, I find out it’s common practice, with a recipe for bigoli cooked in the broth from a boiled duck, which is then used to make the sauce.

There’s a recipe for Sardinian malloreddus with sausage, tomato and saffron that I want to try, and another for paccheri with tomato and crumbled fresh ricotta that I’m itching to make. Not to forget spaghetti alla Puttanesca, this one made with Gaeta olives and cherry tomatoes; you know the rest.


A classic that deserves a place on your cookbook shelf.


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