Fork and spoons at the ready and gluten gluttons on your marks; it’s National Pasta Day.
While pasta is most commonly associated with Italian food, noodles are a bit of a cultural universal, found on ancient plates the world over.
Persistent myth maintains that pasta was introduced to Italy by Virgo explorer Marco Polo but food scholar Oretta Zanini De Vita debunks this origin story in her book the “Encyclopedia of Pasta.”
De Vita explains that dried durum wheat pasta found in Italy dates to 800 A.D. Noodles were then spread by Muslims that conquered Sicily and by the 12th century, the markets of Genoa and Pisa were rife with the stuff.
Theory holds that part of the reason pasta, and particularly dried pasta took hold in Italy is because the country then and now, is deeply Catholic and pasta could be eaten on both fast days and in times of feasting.
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Pasta was brought to the shores of the New World by early Spanish settlers and later popularized by Thomas Jefferson who fell for a preliminary version of macaroni and cheese while serving as minister of trade in Paris. During that tenure, Jefferson sent his enslaved chef James Hemming (who was also the half-brother of his wife) to apprentice at a famed chateau making Hemming the first French-trained American chef in history. When they returned to the United States, Hemming introduced what he called macaroni pie to the Americas, serving it at Jefferson’s 1802 state dinner and sowing the seeds of comfort food to come.
When Italian immigrants made their way to American shores in the late 19th century they brought with them their recipes, where they became both beloved and bastardized in our fair lands. Today, Americans consume more than 6 billion pounds of pasta each year, roughly 20 lbs per person. In honor of the glory of sauce and starch, we bring you our list of what pasta aligns with your zodiac sign.
Read on and dig in.
Aries is not a sign renowned for their subtlety and “Pomodoro,” bluntly and beautifully translates to tomato in Italian. Making up for nuance with absolute delightfulness, the dish sings with simplicity and comes together fast and easy, exactly how Aries likes their meals, their sexual encounters and their criminal getaways.
Pesto is traditionally made with the crushed leaves of the basil plant, an herb aligned with the traits and tendencies of Taurus. Taurus, whose power color is green and underbelly is greed, rules the second house of values and possessions and basil has long been associated with wealth and worth. It’s said that carrying basil in your pocket will draw riches, having it in your place of business will attract customers and putting a sprig in the hand of your beloved will indicate (by withering or not) whether they are virtuous or promiscuous, a helpful trick for the jealous bull.
Cacio e pepe
Gemini is ruled by planet Mercury, named for the god of commerce and communication, trade and tricks and the patron of shepherds, thieves and travelers. Fittingly and according to legend (legend being Gemini’s love language), Cacio e pepe, was born from the necessities of nomadic shepherds who spent the late spring and early summer (Gemini season) grazing their flocks in the Apennine Mountains. For sustenance, they needed something cheap, lightweight and resistant to rot, (a holy trinity of Gemini preference) and packed dried pasta and pepper for the journey. These ingredients were combined with the cheese cultivated from their flocks to make this simple, resplendent dish beloved by Anthony Bourdain. Bourdain, who had Mercury and Venus in Gemini declared Cacio e pepe “the greatest thing in the history of the world” and admitted he’d trade losing his virginity, Jefferson Airplane, a fistful of psychedelic experiences and reading “The Catcher in the Rye” for another taste of the sublime.
Linguine allo scoglio/frutti di mare
While the official noodle of Cancer would be the ravioli on account of this ilk keeping their feelings inside and spirited away under a comfortable layer of mistrust, the pasta dish that speaks most fluently to cardinal water is linguine allo scoglio. The name translates to “spaghetti of the rock,” and the recipe, which fluctuates in accordance with the tides, seasons and temperament of the cook, is as ever-changing as the moon and many moods that rule the people of the crab.
Leo is ruled by the sun, lords over the human heart and shines as the zodiac’s most unrepentant romantic, showman and self-ordained regent. Leo is also the sign of the eternal child and in 1908, in the Eternal City of Rome, chef Alfredo di Lelio’s wife Ines gave birth to a son. According to Luca Cesari’s “The Discovery of Pasta: A History in Ten Dishes,” Ines was severely weakened from the delivery and a distressed Alfredo took to the kitchen to prepare her something nourishing and easy to digest. Like a true carb king, he made fettuccine noodles, tossed them in emulsified butter and parmesan and said a prayer to the patron saint of new mothers. Ines loved the dish so much that they put it on the menu of their trattoria.
Alfredo, in a leonine show of pageantry, would commence preparing the dish tableside, attracting the attention of Hollywood power couple Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks who gifted him with a golden fork and spoon engraved with the message, “To Alfredo the King of the noodles.” With a celebrity endorsement, a handlebar mustache and the love of a good woman, Alfredo rode a buttered wave all the way to glory.
Macaroni and cheese
Virgo is the sign of the resourceful recluse and macaroni and cheese is the dish of choice of “Home Alone’s” hermit hero Kevin McCallister, played by IRL Virgo Macaulay Culkin. Who but a clever, mutable earth priest would wish for their family to disappear so they can enjoy the holidays in peace, watch R-rated movies, drink their milk from a wine glass and eat their pasta in blessed solitude?
Spaghetti and meatballs
Ruled, by Venus, planet of love, aesthetics and attraction, Libra is the sign of partnership and popularity and Disney’s “Lady and the Tramp,” provides the most iconic pasta scene in all of cinema history. As “Belle Notte,” plays, Tramp and Lady, two sides of the same Libra archetype; (rakish flirt and coquettish aristocrat) strike a balance and share an accidental kiss over a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs. The scene was almost cut by Walt Disney who thought the idea of dogs eating was more ridiculous than romantic but love won in the end and the spaghetti kiss remains a cultural cornerstone.
Pasta alla Norma
Pasta alla Norma is a traditional Sicilian pasta of sautéd eggplant, crushed tomatoes and fresh ricotta. In terms of the corporeal form/mortal coil, Scorpio rules the genitalia and as any millennial will tell you, the eggplant emoji is a digital stand-in for d–k. Add to the sauce that the Italian composer Vincenzo Bellini who wrote the opera “Norma” from which the dish takes its name, was a card-carrying Scorpio.
Sagittarius is the sign of expansion; abundance at best and excess and empirical tyranny at worst. Apropos of this, lasagne is a consequence of conquest. Originally developed by the Greeks, the marauding Romans took the dish home with them along with an entire aesthetic tradition, a pantheon of gods and a governing philosophy. In the centuries since lasagna has been adapted and adopted while maintaining a richness in taste and reputation. Recent evidence includes this viral $50 caviar lasagne.
Spaghetti alla puttanesca
Capricorn is the sign of industry, the sacred grind, the punishing work ethic and the mighty dollar. Puttanesca, which translates to “in the style of sex workers,” is a quick and easy dish of spaghetti with tomatoes, black olives, capers, anchovies, onions, garlic and herbs. In the spirit of the enterprising sea goat, legend holds that Neapolitan sex workers would draw men to their doors like the sirens of yore with the pungent scent of this pasta and/or prepare it in between clients to maximize earning potential.
Aquarius is ruled by two planets; staunch traditionalist Saturn and burn it down, build it back better Uranus. Never has the energy of these two luminaries found more acute culinary expression than in “Carbonaragate.” It all began when a French website’s recipe for (gasp) a one-pot carbonara using blasphemous bowtie pasta went viral. The video sparked international debate among Italian food writers, chefs, home cooks and pasta makers who were outraged by the break in orthodox preparation and the breakdown of general decency. Further fueling the fire was a “New York Times” recipe that called for tomatoes to be added to carbonara, which some likened to declaring war on Italy.
Chef Marco Sacco speaks as, and to, the archetype of Aquarius with this suggested ceasefire and proposed middle path, “In the kitchen, the protection and care of tradition must be able to coexist with the desire and the possibility to innovate and experiment. The original recipe, or the oldest versions, must be defended and preserved, just as an artistic asset is protected in a museum or a UNESCO site. But this does not mean that maximum freedom should not be given to experiment, innovate or adapt to the territory with new ingredients.” Here, here!
In the Christmas classic, “Elf,” effervescent Buddy is the quintessential Pisces. Living and loving out loud with an endearing and unhinged sense of whimsy, his spirit and that of all fish folk is made manifest in this breakfast calamity of noodles covered in maple syrup, cereal, Pop Tarts, hope, marshmallows, cheer, candy and inextinguishable enthusiasm. Because we deserve nice things, Chicago diner Miss Ricky’s offers an “Elf” inspired Spaghetti Sundae during the holiday season.
Astrology 101: Your guide to the star
Astrologer Reda Wigle researches and irreverently reports back on planetary configurations and their effect on each zodiac sign. Her horoscopes integrate history, poetry, pop culture and personal experience. She is also an accomplished writer who has profiled a variety of artists and performers, as well as extensively chronicled her experiences while traveling. Among the many intriguing topics she has tackled are cemetery etiquette, her love for dive bars, Cuban Airbnbs, a “girls guide” to strip clubs and the “weirdest” foods available abroad.