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Pasta al forno | baked pasta loops

pasta loops

You give love a bad name

Let’s face it, ‘spaghettios’ look like pasta al forno. One comes in a can, the other in an oven tray.

Spaghettios come in a can. A product that is difficult to justify. A problem most meals that come in a can have.

Pasta al forno though has a different nature. This is  a laborious dish that unites people. A dish that heralds festivities. Basically the opposite of the canned loops.

Spaghettios on the other hand symbolize despair. Uh oh, no time, no energy, no inspiration. Only eating it straight from the can could be sadder. 

The common use of that particular pasta, loops,  is interesting. 

a can of spaghettios, the American cousin of pasta al forno

Little rings, anelletti

anelletti are the pasta used for pasta al forno

The Italian name for that kind of pasta is ‘anelletti‘, little rings. What is remarkable is that ‘pasta al forno‘ is the only Italian recipe it is used in. Well, Sicilian recipe and even more precise, Palermitan recipe. 

The first pasta factory stood in Sicily. As early as 1154. They produced dry pasta. Contrary to fresh pasta it had a long lasting shelf life. So And pasta produced in Trabia was exported even to mainland Italy.

There are many legends on the birth of the ring formed pasta. A very acceptable version is that it represented jewelry. And it was an easy type of pasta to transport. What we know for sure is that the cradle stood in Sicily.

Pasta al forno, a dish for all seasons

Pasta al forno is not an average pasta dish. First of all because it contains meat. And meat used to be eaten for festivities only.

The loops come with a Bolognese like sauce. With addition of peas, aubergines, eggs and ham. 

Still today it conserves a special place on the yearly menu. It contends lasagne at Christmas and Easter. But there is no concurrence whatsoever as beach food. And baked pasta loops are a condition for trip to the countryside. 

It is a safety dish for children. Even the fussiest eaters will settle for a plate of pasta al forno. 

pasta al forno

Comfort food

This dish provides consolation, a feeling of well-being. The high carbohydrate content and association with childhood and home cooking make it Palermitan comfort food. For unknown reasons it remained in the province. While other comfort foods invade the whole wide world. Pizza, lasagne, pasta Bolognese, just to name three.

Until 1965, when an American food company came up with spaghettios

Uh Uh Spaghettios!

From pasta al forno to canned pasta

child eating spaghetti

The Americans opted for this particular form of pasta for a specific reason. Eating spaghetti was a messy affair. Twisting the strings with a fork was time consuming. 

Eventually they choose loops. ‘A neat round spaghetti you can eat with a spoon‘.

Did they know about pasta al forno when settling on loops? Was there a native Sicilian sitting on the board meeting? And if so, did they copy the concept?

After all pasta al forno is ready made food. Children love it and adults don’t have to cook. Who prepares pasta al forno in Sicily? The best cook of the company. Someone you blindly trust. A position the Spaghettios wanted to assimilate. Or at least desired.


Spaghettios al forno

With the loops and sauce in common, are they really that different

Sicilians believe the American version is preposterous. After pineapple on pizza, this. What is next? Chicken parmigiana?

American on the other hand enjoy pasta al forno. At least they are willing to try and eat it.

spaghettios dish with Wieners

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