The Pastagate

“An Italian Nobel Prize winner has triggered a “pastagate” by rethinking the sacrosanct cooking of pasta

Should you turn down the heat when cooking pasta and put the lid on or let the water boil over?

If there’s one thing you can’t take away from the Italians, it’s their expertise with pasta. And yet, a Nobel Prize winner tried to question their cooking, with a view to reducing energy consumption.

The intention was good, but his nationality, Italian as it may be, did not save him from the controversy that was immediately triggered by his proposal. Indeed, Giorgio Parisi, Nobel Prize in Physics in 2021 described on his Facebook page a more economical way to cook pasta.

Giorgio Parisi indeed advises to boil the water, then, once the pasta has been plunged into it, to turn down the heat to the minimum. “The most important thing is to always keep the lid on, as the heat is lost through evaporation. After the pasta boils, I turn the gas to minimum, so that it boils very low without consuming gas.”

The scientist cites another method, even turning off the fire completely. As his post suggests, with the heat, kept by the lid, the pasta can cook in this way. Except that the subject is not the easiest to discuss in Italy, and quickly, his proposal has caused a reaction.

The Italian news agency Ansa reports that the reactions on social networks are strong, but also interviews chemist Dario Bressanini, who says that the system works. “It has been known for 200 years that it is not the boiling of the water, seeing it bubble, that makes the cooking but the temperature of the water, which transfers heat to the pasta,” he explains.

But even if science has spoken, the method leaves more than one Italian circumspect. The Italian columnist Massimo Gramellini quotes in an article for the Corriere della Serra, the chef Antonello Colonna, who reacted to Parisi’s proposal with skepticism, believing that “Alla Parisi” pasta would be too “rubbery”.

And to put his thoughts on the “pastagate” on the table: “I would be tempted to trust Colonna for the same reason that, in a possible dispute between the chef and the physicist about black holes, I would tend to trust Parisi”.

Between saving energy or eating pasta cooked according to the rules of the art, you have to choose… Or test and make up your own mind.”

Source: article published on 08/09/2022