To me, nothing better makes the case for the essential nothingness of pasta than the evident need to titivate the stuff by presenting it variously as worms, squashed worms, wider squashed worms, frizzy worms, small-bore tubes, large-bore tubes, pouches and bow-ties. It’s all basically flour and water, and a crafty way of delivering cheap starch with a lick of sauce and calling it a meal. The whole thing is an Italian confidence trick played upon English class-anxiety, and the reason you can’t dislike pasta is the reason you can’t really like it either: it’s the culinary equivalent of a blank page. Give me potatoes every time, and shape them into bosoms, swans or butterflies if you must.
Actually, it is like potatoes. Which we produce mashed, roast, baked, chipped, creamed, dauphinoise and so on. Each form being right for what it accompanies. So with pasta. Some shapes are for hearty soups, some for clear bouillons. Some sauces stick better to certain shapes – heavier sauces generally require flatter, tagliatelle not spaghetti. And so on and on.
Roast beef, gravy and chips? Grouse and baked? Just no. So too farfalle bolognese, or lasagne alla vongole…..