Pasta is a staple food of traditional Italian cuisine, now of worldwide renown. It takes the form of unleavened dough, made in Italy, mostly of durum wheat (more rarely buckwheat flour), water and sometimes eggs. Pasta comes in a variety of different shapes that serve for both decoration and to act as a carrier for the different types of sauce. Pasta also includes varieties, such as ravioli and tortellini, that are filled with other ingredients, such as ground meat or cheese. Pasta is eaten in Italy only as first course or nowadays as "piatto unico".
There are hundreds of different shapes of pasta with at least locally recognised names. Examples include spaghetti (thin strings), maccheroni (tubes or cylinders), fusilli (swirls), and lasagne (sheets). Gnocchi and spätzle are sometimes considered pasta; they are both traditional in parts of Italy.
Pasta is categorized in two basic styles: dried and fresh. Dried pasta made without eggs can be stored for up to two years under ideal conditions, while fresh pasta will keep for a few days under refrigeration. Pasta is generally cooked by boiling.
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