Italians need to save gas and electricity when cooking pasta

Spaghetti, fusilli, penne, linguine, rigatoni, orecchiette, pappardelle: the countless types of pasta are icons of Italian cuisine and, as “primo” (starters), are essential to a good meal in Belpaese. But now the energy crisis has also reached the pasta we love so much: their preparation consumes significant amounts of gas or electricity, because a relatively large amount of water has to be boiled.

And so, for several weeks, Italians have been bombarded by more or less competent experts in newspapers and television with more or less sensible advice on how to save money on cooking pasta.

Giorgio Parisi, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics last year, has recently joined the discussion. His advice: Bring the water to a boil in the pan, add the pasta, put the lid on – and then turn off the stove immediately or after two minutes. “This saves gas or electricity for at least eight minutes!” the scientist from Rome’s La Sapienza University wrote on Twitter.

Because of the gradual drop in water temperature, the pasta simply needs to stay in the pan for about a minute longer, Parisi says. Overall, energy savings are up to 47 percent – with corresponding positive effects on your gas or electricity bill.

This is called “passive cooking” by the corresponding technical term. The Nobel Prize winner received support from renowned chemist and science journalist Dario Bressanini: “It has been known for 200 years that it is not the boiling of water and the rising of bubbles that are important for the cooking process, but the temperature. of water: pasta – or rice – absorbs water at 80 degrees.

This may be “surprising” because traditionally people are used to always keep the water boiling and even remove the lid. Even if the water doesn’t boil, there’s no danger of the pasta clumping together, at least not if you use quality pasta made from “grano duro” (hard wheat). In any case, the quality of the noodles does not suffer, but some top chefs see things differently.

Renowned chef Antonello Colonna—he was also head chef at Palazzo Chigi, the seat of the Italian prime minister—doesn’t think much of Paris’s suggestion: With this method, the pasta would no longer be truly “al dente.” “, but “rubber”, explained Colonna and mentioned his negative experiences.

Colonna emphasized that everyone should cook at home in a way that suits their taste and above all their wallet. Due to disadvantages in consistency and taste, the Parisi method is unsuitable in gastronomy.

It has not yet been decided who is right in the pasta dispute. In any case, in Italy, where food has always been an absolute first-hand topic, (almost) nothing else has been discussed for days.

However, the thought of simply letting pasta cook in non-boiling water seems to irritate many amateur cooks. “I can eat spaghetti raw right away, then I save 100 percent of energy,” was a sarcastic comment on social networks.

But now even the government has spoken in favor of the Parisi method: Minister of Ecological Transition Roberto Cingolani, a physicist like Parisi, also recommends turning off the stove or at least reducing it to a minimum after the pasta is boiled. water. The advice will be part of a national awareness campaign in which the government will provide advice on how to voluntarily reduce energy consumption from September.

The measures also include shorter and colder showers, full loading of the washing machine and dishwasher, replacing old and inefficient household appliances with modern machines, not having TVs and set-top boxes on standby and much more. But all this is less of a debate in Italy than pasta in non-boiling water.

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