In my 28 years of life, I have spent an unusual amount of time contemplating the respective merits of different pasta shapes.
I listened intently as “Sporkful” host Dan Pashman released “Mission ImPASTable,” a multi-episode chronicling his journey to creating the perfect pasta shape. I was then delighted to interview him about the resulting creation: cascatelli.
When Rachel Handler reported on the great Bucatini shortage of 2020, I sympathized with her fanatical questioning of the pasta supply chain. If you need me on a dull weekend, chances are I’m somewhere on the second floor of Eataly in Chicago looking for the perfect pasta to quell my Sunday fears.
I sincerely believe that if someone has enough opinions about pasta to have a favorite shape, that choice is likely to tell you something about who they are as a person. Example: Nicholas Cage.
If someone has enough opinions about pasta to have a favorite shape, that choice is likely to tell you something about who they are as a person.
Earlier this month, the actor took to Reddit to participate in an AMA (Ask Me Anything) ahead of the release of his semi-autobiographical new film, ‘The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.’ Fans have asked Cage for everything from movies he can binge-watch without getting bored (“Apocalypse Now” and “Spirited Away”) to his dream role (Jules Verne’s Captain Nemo).
However, a Redditer took the question out of my mouth when he asked, “What’s your favorite shape of pasta?”
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Cage responded with a short story about visiting an unnamed Italian restaurant in San Francisco 25 years ago with Charlie Sheen because “they had square tube pasta and he was very interested in trying tube pasta square”.
“And we did and loved it so much we went back the next day to try it again,” the actor concluded.
Square. Tube. Pasta.
Related: Everything you need to know about cascatelli, the new “perfect” pasta shape that’s all the rage
Cage didn’t give further details, but pasta-loving internet sleuths got to work trying to determine the actual shape, as well as where it would have been served. Some first guessed ravioli which, although often square, does not necessarily qualify as a “tube”, although it is filled with cheese or meat. Some have suggested rigatoni, which is definitely more tube than square.
My personal guess is that he meant calamarata. Named because the pasta mimics the rings of calamari when raw, this shape flattens out a bit when cooked, eventually causing it to sit on the plate like – you guessed it – a square. Per Share the Pasta, “it tends to be used in seafood dishes”, which only reinforces my theory. When Cage was doing interviews for his food-themed movie “Pig,” he told Yahoo that one of his specialties was seafood arrabiata pasta.
“I’m very careful that it’s al dente,” he said. “I start by producing the calamari and clams in a base of olive oil with lots of garlic and sea salt. And then I throw in the chilies so you get that pop.”
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Cage then puts the tomato sauce in a skillet with olive oil, garlic, sea salt, clams, lobster and calamari.
Coincidence? Perhaps. Maybe not. As far as we know, the “square tube” pasta the actor was referring to was an extraordinary unique shape, enhanced by a mysterious chef’s understanding of molecular gastronomy and some flexing of typical pasta physics. For now, pasta remains enigmatic – much like Cage himself.
Hunger? Try some of our favorite Italian-American recipes: