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Paccheri Pasta

Paccheri -- those large, wonderful tubes, like huge pieces of garden hose -- are well suited for soups, lasagna, or dishes heavy with garlic.

The commonly held belief that Paccheri was Italian for 'squid' (the shape reminds most of calamari) is a urban myth, and one that needs to be dispelled once and for all. This myth, part of a much larger plot by the originators of the Paccheri Pasta, served to obfuscate and hide the Paccheri's true place in history.

In fact, Paccheri served as a vehicle to smuggle banned garlic cloves across the alps from Italy into what is today known as Austria.

To hear the story is to delve deep into Italian culture. In the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance, Prussian garlic (Austria, today) was known to be small and rather weak. In contrast, Southern Italian garlic, with those large robust and pungent cloves, was highly sought after by Prussian and Hungarian Princes. In the early 1600's, in order to protect their own garlic farmers, the Prussian Excellency closed the border between Prussia and Italy to Italian garlic. Trade in Italian garlic ceased.

Southern Italians garlic farmers, whose livelihood depended heavily on the Prussian Garlic Trade were incensed.

Quietly, and now we know, quite successfully, Sicilian pasta barons created Paccheri pasta, perfectly shaped to hide a ducat's worth of Italian garlic (four to five cloves). Concomitantly, the pasta barons disseminated a litany of propaganda about Paccheri pasta designed to obfuscate Paccheri's true role.

While we have lost many of those original stories, the Paccheri-Calamari connection is still widely believed, showing the depth of the Paccheri deception. The Paccheri deception was so effective that in the early 1800's, the Prussian garlic industry finally folded. The Prussian government was unable (and some historians think unwilling) to discover how Italian garlic managed to be smuggled Northward across the alps so effectively. We can thank Paccheri for that distinction!

Cook Paccheri pasta 11 minutes for al dente, 13 minutes until done.

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