In defense of pasta


Public service announcement: turns out pasta doesn’t make you fat after all.**

The world’s greatest study of all time has vindicated the famous Sophia Loren quote that goes: ‘everything you see, I owe to spaghetti.’ How poetic and vaguely liberating is that line? Apparently it’s now scientifically proven (big shoutout to the folks at the IRCCS Instituto Neurologico Meditterneano for the confirmation) that a diet saturated with pasta can indeed contribute to smaller waistlines, plus a whole string of other health benefits that aren’t worth mentioning for nothing is quite as compelling as the one that’s directly correlated to outer appearances.

Hardy har har guys! The fact that this study needed to be done must surely be worth a study of its own. But first, some context on the pasta zeitgeist is essential.

For a long time the Italians have been contending with an indestructible force of dietary self righteousness that is the archetypal Californian millennial. At some point at the turn of the 21st century, thanks in part to the American youth and their fad diets, food was no longer deemed good for you unless it was at least three quarters protein or fibre and had the flavour appeal of a sprouted potato. There was no longer room for pasta on the nutritional spectrum because carbs were officially the devil. Somehow this concept diffused into our collective contemporary consciousness, so now we need permission slips from the health authorities of the world declaring that pasta is indeed worth eating before we care to indulge.

Hmm. In the consistent swarm of contradicting health claims that surface on my newsfeed every other day, it only makes sense to take declarations like these with a heap of salt. But then again, it’s funny that anyone ever needed to be told that it’s okay to partake in the great joy that is pasta consumption. You wouldn’t have to ask me twice to inhale some spaghetti!

I love my pasta. If you've ever remedied a bad day or wounded heart with a dish of tagliatelle drowning in a basil scented tomato sauce then you too would attest to its all purpose psychological and emotional curative prowess. It’s such a potent force for comfort that it can easily overthrow your post-gym resolve to lay off the calories with a single swoop of a garlic-laced cream coated strand. Have you ever had gnocchi covered in gorgonzola and butter? I have, and it’s like eating actual tangible happy feelings. When S and I took our tour of Italy in April, one of the things that struck us was that in spite of the stick-to-your-ribs richness of Italian cuisine, no one was morbidly obese. We didn’t gain any weight from eating pasta two or three times every single day for sixteen consecutive days, and the Italians who sat beside us in the ristorantes didn’t seem to have that problem either.

Pasta is one of the greatest foods to have ever graced our palates. And there’s never been a better time to stop being so terrified of it.

**Must be eaten as part of a holistic Mediterranean diet featuring olive oil, nuts, fruits and vegetables, fish, poultry, and limited red and processed meats. Does not include diets which solely feature pastas to the extreme exclusion of any other food types. Common sense and moderation apply.

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