If you think that Tuesday, October 17th is just an ordinary Tuesday, you’re sorely mistaken. National Pasta Day falls on October 17th annually and is a worldwide celebration of one of the most popular dishes of all time. Pasta was introduced to America by Thomas Jefferson after he visited Italy, and in 1789 he brought the first pasta-making machine and crates (CRATES!) of macaroni to the United States. It caught, and the rest is history.

Pasta is one of the simplest dishes to make, using simple flour and water dough. In fact, “pasta” is the Italian word for dough. The difficult part of pasta though is distinguishing which Italian word means which shape of pasta. Have you ever sat down at a restaurant, opened the menu, and literally had to google an ingredient to figure out if the pasta is one you will like? You aren’t alone. Here is a little cheat sheet to survive October 17th, sans Google:

-Spaghetti is a cord
-Linguini is a thicker version of spaghetti
-Conchiglie is shells
-Rotini is spiraled
-Ravioli is the kind that is stuffed
-Fusilli is also spiraled, but tighter ones
-Penne looks like a larger, straight angled macaroni
-Lasagna is thick sheets of pasta and layered
-Cannelloni are tubes
-Farfalle is a fancy name for bow tie pasta

A small list, but it generally covers the popular kinds of pasta served by restaurants in America. However, there are 600 types of pasta and over 3,000 names for pasta! Another fact to know when looking at a menu is that fresh pasta, i.e. pasta hand-made that day in the restaurant, are often served with meat or in ravioli dishes. Dry pasta is served with thick sauces and grows when they are cooked.

For tips on the absolute best restaurants to enjoy National Pasta Day in full, click here.

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Amelia Weiss
As a Florida State University alum, Amelia works as a graphic designer and public relations professional in Orlando, Florida. With a passion for traveling and sharing stories with others, Amelia created her website www.readtb.com to encourage others to throw their worries to the wind and travel on their own.