When The Sporkful podcast host Dan Pashman started investigating what makes a perfect pasta shape, he did so with more than idle curiosity: he was a man on a mission to invent a new one. The new shape, called “cascatelli” comes from the Italian word for waterfalls and represents the culmination of Dan’s journey — and by extension his podcast’s — through what it takes to design a new pasta shape.
On the surface, the pasta shape marries some of Dan’s favorite shapes together, including mafalde and bucatini. But creating a shape wasn’t as simple as cherry picking favorite parts, as Dan describes the three-year quest over the course of a five-part podcast series.
In the process, Dan identifies the three most important elements he wants in his pasta: how easy it is to get on the fork, how well it holds sauce, and how enjoyable the texture is to eat. The ridges of the new pasta shape hold sauce well — just like mafalde and bucatini. And the right angles formed from the parallel ridges are designed to make it satisfying to bite into from any direction, reminiscent of radiatori.
As a pasta lover myself, I am intrigued by the depth of research, and am excited to try the new shape, though I am not sure if I have the patience for more than three hours of podcast episodes to learn all of its nuances. I am not a podcast person, I am a let’s-get-messy-and-give-it-a-shot person. But thankfully, this combination podcast and pasta release (Podsta? Pastacast?) offers either option: the podcast series is live now on the Sporkful’s website, and the pasta is available by the one-pound box for pre-order on the website of Dan’s collaborators, New York artisan pasta maker Sfoglini.