Pasta comes in many different shapes and sizes. Spaghetti, Linguine, and Bucatini are just three splendid examples. They are all shapes of long pasta, but when you look at them closely, they are completely different from each other.
Spaghetti is maybe the most typical Italian pasta shape. It is long and looks like a string – hence its name, as spago means ‘string’. It is the best-known pasta shape in the world, and therefore its name is identical in nearly every language! Spaghetti can be eaten with a variety of sauces, but originally, spaghetti was served with only olive oil and cheese. Later, Italians started to serve spaghetti with tomato sauce, and today spaghetti is often served with meat sauces, seafood, vegetables, or cheeses.
Linguine is a long, flattened shape of pasta. Its name means ‘little tongues’ in Italian. Usually, linguine is around 25 centimetres long, about 3 millimetres wide, and very thin.
Linguine is most suitable for non-meat sauces, such as sauces with fish or crustaceans, or various pesto sauces. The best-known Ligurian pasta dish would have to be Linguine al Pesto Accomodato. In this dish, green beans and potatoes cook in the same water as the pasta, and afterwards are topped with traditional Pesto alla Genovese (of course, prepared with a mortar and pestle!).
Bucatini comes from the Italian word buco, meaning ‘hole’. It is a special kind of pasta, which may look like normal spaghetti at first sight, however, there is a hole running through the centre. Bucatini taste best with intensely flavoured liquid sauces that can soak into the hole, such as tomato sauce, Cacio e Pepe or alla Carbonara. The best-known Italian dish for bucatini is ‘Bucatini all’Amatriciana’, which is made with Pecorino Romano, Guanciale and tomato sauce.