Category Archives: Uncategorized

What’s the difference between pasta and macaroni?

The shorter answer: Nothing. Different ingredients or preparation methods can be used to make various types of pasta/macaroni, but generally, the words are interchangeable for the same food product. It can be fresh or dried.

The longer answer: There is evidence in ancient times to suggest the people of the Italian peninsula were making and eating pasta/macaroni, although the dishes were called by other names, such as lagana for an early Roman type of pasta dish. The earliest mention of  maccheroni being produced is in a 1509 edict in Naples. A few centuries ago, a derogatory nickname for Neapolitans and Sicilians was “macaroni eaters.” Macaroni is the word Italian Americans, who are primarily Southern Italian from Naples and Sicily, used for the general food. Macaroni is also known by type, such as spaghetti, fusilli, rigatoni, tagliatelle, etc. Later, in the 1970s & 1980s, when Italian restaurants serving “Northern Italian” cuisine became popular, and chefs from Northern Italian cities gained airtime in the media, the term pasta became the preferred term amongst those in media. For a more detailed history of the origins of pasta/macaroni, please see my book, Authentic Italian.

The more detailed answer: Italians use both words pasta and macaroni for different preparations of the food. If the dish is served with a sauce/gravy (another Italian-American debate), then it is called macaroni. If it is served in a more soupy context, then it is pasta. For example, pasta e fagioli or pasta fazool or bast e fazool, in Neapolitan, is a soup made with short pasta. In Neapolitan, “p” has a “b” sound and the final vowel is left off. This is why we say we are eating “bast and peas,” or “bast and cauliflower,” or “bast and ciceri (chickpeas),” or “bast and beans.” These dishes have a more soupy quality to them, with a more liquidy sauce. Every child with an Italian grandmother remembers eating pastina, which translates to “little pasta,” a more or less liquidy dish made with very tiny pasta and butter or also with cheese and/or eggs. It’s called PASTina because it’s soupy. If it had been a sauce/gravy served on top, maybe it would have been called macarina (isn’t that a dance?!). For macaroni, if we are eating a particular macaroni dish, we use the name of that macaroni, as in, “Tonight, let’s have fusilli with ricotta,” or “What about spaghetti with broccoli sauce,” or “How about rigatoni and gravy?” So to summarize, while technically, it is the same thing, whether or not it’s pasta or macaroni depends on its preparation.

–Dina M. Di Maio, author of Authentic Italian: The Real Story of Italy’s Food and Its People

Grandma’s Carrot Salad

By New Year’s, I think most people are burned out by all the cookies, cakes and rich holiday foods. That’s why this salad is perfect to help kick-start the diet.

Grandma’s Carrot Salad

1 bag shredded carrots (or julienne carrots until you get about 4 cups)

1/3 cup olive oil

1 cup raisins

1/3 cup pine nuts

In a large bowl, toss the carrots with the olive oil to coat. Add raisins and pine nuts. Toss to mix. Serve.

–Dina Di Maio, author of Authentic Italian: The Real Story of Italy’s Food and Its People, available at

Authentic Italian

Publisher Seeks Food Poems for Anthology

Richer Resources is looking for food poems for an upcoming anthology.

September Love With Food Box

This month’s Love With Food box is all about spice–spicy tortilla chips, cinnamon-spiced popcorn, 5-spice caramels, spice mix, soy sauce, hempseeds, as well as chocolate cookies and superfood.


August Love With Food Box

I got my August Love with Food box.  Full of interesting goodies, as usual–nut-free cookies, cheddar snack crackers, Montreal steak spice potato chips, salty taffy, organic lollipops, nuts, a frozen coconut pop and nutty puffed rice snacks.


Creamy Pea Salad

I made this creamy pea salad from Love Bakes Good Cakes.  I used mayo and no mozzarella.  I love salads with chunks of cheddar cheese, and this one was yummy!


wd50 Is Closing This Fall

Wylie Dufresne announced that wd50 will close in November.

Food Words Added to Dictionary

Merriam-Webster has added some food-related words to the dictionary.  These include e-waste and freegan, pho and turducken as well as the French-Canadian poutine.

April Love With Food Box

April Love With Food box

I’m always excited to get my Love With Food box.  The April Love With Food box has some delicious goodies.  I already love Sahale snacks and the almonds with cranberries, honey and sea salt are my favorite.  The organic energy bar by BumbleBar is almond flavored but high on the sesame, so if you like sesame you will like it, as it’s healthy and yummy.  I didn’t like the green chile flavor of the popcorn by Crave Canyon.  I would prefer if it were just white cheddar, as that’s one of my favorite flavors.  However, the popcorn is high quality with nice fat kernels.  I’ve already had the dried fruits from Sensible Foods, and these are one of my favorite snacks.  I look forward to trying everything else.

April Love With Food box2

Dina’s Seven 2014 Food Trend Predictions

Seven is a lucky number, and I’ve come up with seven of my own food trend predictions from what I’ve gathered in my food travels.  These are Dina’s seven 2014 food trend predictions.

1.  Sardinian cuisine–Sardinian cuisine is slowly creeping up, and I think it will make more news and you’ll start seeing Sardinian dishes at Italian restaurants.  Most notably, Sardinian wine; Sardinian pasta, fregola; Sardinian honey and Sardinian bread.

2.  Contemporary Italian cuisine–This is already gaining popularity with restaurants like Tartina in Hell’s Kitchen and others serving contemporary Italian cuisine, but I think the trend will continue, especially for Southern Italian food.  (Most contemporary Italian cuisine you see is from Northern Italy or Napolitano pizza.)

3.  Traditional Italian American cuisine–I think this will continue to be rediscovered.  The advent of the food blog has brought some lesser-known Italian dishes like struffoli and cotenne to light.

4.  Filipino food–This trend started in late 2013.  I think a lot of benefit dinners after the horrible typhoons put Filipino food in the forefront, and I think it’s here to stay.

5.  Scandinavian food–This is a trend that continues to grow.  I think more Scandinavian food purveyors will open up in New York.  I’m not sure if the trend will reach mainstream America though.

6.  Ramen–I think Americans will embrace ramen and we’ll see more ramen shops around the country.

7.  Rediscovering food–I also think Americans are returning to the comforts of the past and simpler times.  I think we’ll see more of “forgotten” recipes from grandmas around the country.