Pasta Madness: The Elite Eight

Pasta Madness: The Elite Eight

Black Truffle Mac 'n Cheese. Flickr/LA & OC Foodventures

Round One is where the chips start to fall but Round Two is where hearts start to break. Everyone is already a winner and so it’s heartbreaking to see starches that have made it this far stricken. But somebody has to lose.

For this round I found myself doing Google image searches on the pastas in question to see which would most likely be eaten, and in mass quantities, by me. Some of them were easy (Fusilli making it this far was a bit of a fluke) but others weren’t quite as clear. Linguine seems like a slam dunk…or is it? Read on to see who won this week.

Ditalini vs. Linguine: At first this seemed easy, if unfair, sort of like Duke playing some school you’ve never heard of but you’re rooting for because they’re playing Duke. Linguine is a standard. Who ever heard of ditalini anyway? But I love an underdog, sometimes to the point of ridiculousness. Maybe a big bowl of ditalini would be fantastic. Could you use ditalini, perhaps, in lieu of macaroni and make ditalini and cheese? Unfortunately, when I ran a Google image search on ditalini, it confirmed my suspicion that ditalini is really a second-tier pasta, often good in things but never standing alone. Sorry ditalini, I love you but you’re no match for linguine. With that said, however, I would like to try this Ditalini & Lentil pasta salad I found whilst Googling. Winner: Linguine.

Gemelli vs. Ziti: This wasn’t terribly hard because in many ways, gemelli is just double ziti, so who would win in a game, one Michael Jordan vs. two Michael Jordans? Plus, gemelli is my preferred pasta when making this recipe (one of the most popular and simple things I ever cook), so it was a blowout. I’m placing odds on gemelli to win the whole tournament but as you know it ain’t over til the fat, carbohydrate-laden lady sings. Winner: Gemelli.

Orecchiette vs. Pappardelle: This was the most difficult call this week. Orecchiette are just beautiful little darling angels that you can stuff a lot of in your mouth and are typically seen in tandem with butter or cream or peas. They’re little ears, like the ears of little babies you just want to eat. If orecchiette were a basketball team it would be one of those teams that’s all young underdogs who never thought they’d make it this far and they cry at the end of the game when they lose and you would too and the whole stadium, including the opposing team, would be cheering more for them and how far they’ve gotten than for the other team’s victory. I tried thinking about what’s not so great about pappardelle, which is namely that it always seems expensive and comes in portions that don’t seem to be as large enough as you’d like. But when I Googled orecchiette and then pappardelle, there was no contest. A bowlful of pappardelle still looks more likely like it’d make it into my mouth than the orecchiette. Sorry kids. Maybe next year. Winner: Pappardelle

Fusilli vs. Farfalle: The battle of the pasta salad pastas. I sort of consider fusilli to be like that one American Idol contestant who isn’t that good, who nobody really likes but makes it far due to ironic voting. Although, to be honest, the worst fusilli is still miles better than even just an okay American Idol contestant. The truth is that I just can’t separate fusilli from its most base form, which is to say, the over-vinegared, over-oiled, too-salty, too-oniony pasta salad that you usually get for free at some picnic you don’t want to be at. But don’t be too smug, farfalle: it seems like you appear in your fair share of tacky salads and bland chicken-breast-laden (Oh! How I loathe the plain white chicken breast, which devalues a good pasta more times than it adds to it) dishes as well. Fusilli lost this game just as much as you won it. You better practice really hard before next week’s tournament. Winner: Farfalle

This is really exciting, people. Looks like this is coming down to a tight race between short pastas and longs. Who will take the crown?

My stomach is growling. Follow me @Zulkey