Column Classic: Pasta Impasse

by Lisa Scottoline

You know how on Facebook people say their relationship is complicated?

Well, my relationship just got complicated.

I’m talking about my relationship with pasta.

Let me take you back in time to the dark ages when we didn’t even use the word pasta.

Back then, we called it spaghetti.

And growing up in a household of The Flying Scottoline, we had spaghetti every night for dinner.

I’m not even kidding.

I have mentioned this before, but it bears repeating.

We thought spaghetti was what you had for dinner.

Sometimes we had it with meatballs, sometimes with chicken, but always spaghetti. You would think this got boring, but it never did. All my friends wanted to come to our house for dinner.


Because we had spaghetti.

On holidays we had ravioli or gnocchi, but even then, we still served it with spaghetti.

Yes, we had carbohydrates with a side of carbohydrates.

And we were as happy as clams.

Spaghetti with clams.

So naturally, I grew up loving spaghetti, and it’s still the food I crave. I would eat it every night if my jeans would permit.

My sweatpants are fine with it, however.

Then, in the evolution of spaghetti history, everybody started calling it pasta, which enabled restaurants to charge three dollars more.

At about the same time, I started reading about how you should eat whole-wheat pasta because it was made of healthier ingredients.

Like you didn’t have semolina.

Until then I didn’t know that regular pasta was made of semolina, which sounds like a last name.

Meet Lisa Semolina, author, and dog-lover.

But I read that whole-wheat spaghetti was better for you because it had more protein. I compared, and on the box, it said that regular spaghetti had seven grams of protein, but whole-wheat pasta has eight grams of protein.

You might not think that one gram makes a difference, but I never underestimate the power of one.

Not only literally.

Literally, it takes me three years to lose a single pound, so I don’t take one for granted.

So, I made the switch to whole-wheat spaghetti, and I told myself that it tasted the same.

It didn’t, but I lived with it.

I completely replaced my semolina-laden spaghetti with whole-wheat spaghetti and drowned it in tomato sauce.

Or gravy, to those of you who speak the language.

The language being South Philly.

I went happily/unhappily on my way, eating whole-wheat pasta until I saw a different type of pasta that was supposed to be even healthier, called Protein Plus.

Plus is definitely good, right?

Protein Plus pasta seems to be somewhere between whole-wheat pasta and regular pasta, and it has ten grams of protein.


That’s three more grams than seven – proof that I can subtract.

Or add.

Or get suckered in by anything.

So, I bought the Protein Plus pasta, drowned that in sauce/gravy, and kept telling myself how much fun I was having.

Until I came across a new kind of pasta that was made from chickpeas, and it had thirteen grams of protein.

In other words, I hit the protein jackpot!

For a long time, I subbed that in, burying it in gravy and also mozzarella.

Obviously, we’re abandoning the calorie count. I needed the mozzarella to smother the taste, which I never needed with regular pasta, which tastes awesome all by itself.

So, I have more protein but also more carbs and fat.

And I have four different types of pasta in my pantry – regular, whole wheat, protein plus, and chickpea. On any given night, when I want pasta, I never know which one to choose.

So, you see why my relationship with pasta is complicated.

But it isn’t over.

Nobody divorces spaghetti.

Copyright Lisa Scottoline 2016