Let’s talk about comfort food. What that means varies a whole lot from person to person. Maybe your go-to is khichdi, congee, poutine, pierogies, or picadillo. For a few members of team 20x200, there’s no edible comfort quite like a forkful of pasta—and we’re not just saying that because this Sunday is World Pasta Day. (But if there was ever a reason to romance some rigatoni … ) When it comes to shapes, we don’t discriminate. Give us consolation in the form of carbonara, well-being in a bowl of bucatini, some self-love layered in a pan of lasagna. We’re betting a lot of folks feel the same way. Which is why we’re also betting our brand new Vintage Edition will cook up major culinary cheer and noodle nostalgia for many of you. Meet the over 100-year-old pasta chart you didn’t know you needed: Macaroni and Similar Pastes. Honestly, we’re boiling over with excitement.
These neatly organized noodles are a nod to nonnas and pasta paramours everywhere. Arrayed individually against a dark background, their al dente excellence is revealed, each ridge, curve, plane, and hollow emphasized. And that’s important! Those ridges are super sauce catchers, short curves compliment a soup, flatter shapes will sop up something creamy, and hollows are ripe for a ragù. The absolute artistry of those tiny figurative shapes toward the bottom isn’t lost amid this precise display of pasta. The dark background also makes the golden hue of the pasta pop. It looks positively luscious, practically noble, primed to hang in your kitchen as the ultimate carb homage. Plus, it’s sure to spark some ideas when you’re noodling around your pantry. Imagine the pastabilities.
We plucked Macaroni and Similar Pastes from American author and advertising executive Artemas Ward’s extensive compilation of edible elements, The Grocer’s Encyclopedia. Published in 1911, Ward’s turn-of-the-century tome took thirty years to execute, during which time he contacted countless producers and manufacturers from around the world for information, photographs, and illustrations that would help him achieve his goal: an exhaustive review of grocery goods. Covering more than 1200 tasty topics from Abalone to Zwetschgenwasser and oysters to offal, The Grocer’s Encyclopedia includes over 80 full-color pages, 449 illustrations, information on the origins, preparation, storage, marketing, and use of each food, and term translations into four alternate languages. It has 12 pages on cheese alone. (Holy mascarpone!) Macaroni and Similar Pastes originally appeared as one of the full-color pages. Our retoucher carefully enhanced the image to amp up all its crisp, delectable details. (If this art is up your alley, keep your eye on your inbox for more remastered releases from the same source, coming up in a few weeks.)
Those details really help Macaroni and Similar Pastes capture the versatile pleasures of pasta. We can almost see ourselves slurping a spectacular noodle or stirring some mac & cheese with mom. No matter the meal, comfort foods are comforting because (like so many sensory food experiences) they’re hitched to positive memories and all the emotions that accompany them. They don’t just make you feel momentarily better, they make you feel connected to the people, places, and instances associated with them. No wonder it seems like so many of us have been reaching for comfort cooking from our socially-distanced dens. If you see this print on your wall while you dig into dinner on day 9000 of the pandemic, maybe you’ll be reminded: this too shall pasta.
With art for everyone,