Plates of little Waterfalls are a Mission ImPASTAble

Swim with sharks, climb Mount Everest or write a novel … many of us will have similar ideas of what we want to achieve in our lifetimes. Perhaps you want to learn to draw, live by the sea or simply read more Jane Austen. Many such bucket lists are written later in life as we go reassess our first 40, 50 or 60 years of living.

Cascatelli, the little waterfalls, is the latest pasta design. © The Sporkfull

So, does your bucket list include designing a new pasta shape? Mine does. Several years ago a newspaper article about a teenager’s life included this same wish as well. It was that article that gave me the idea. Although I don’t remember much about the article, this idea struck me a fun one to explore.

Cascatelli, the Italian translation of little Waterfall is a revolutionary new pasta shape invented in the US

So, in my usual way of reacting when I am struck by a new idea, I immediately bought a stack of books. This haul included ‘The Geometry of Pasta’ by Caz Hildebrand and Jacob Kenedy, a collection which includes delightful graphic illustrations of dozens of pasta shapes that have been shaped over ‘centuries of Italian invention, industry, agriculture, hunger and politics’.

The very different shapes have evolved through the use of different ingredients, from grainy semolina in the south, eggs and refined flours in the centre of the country and in the cooler north starches such as buckwheat, chestnut and rye are used.

While I still make my own pasta, my creativity has not yet extended to creating a completely fresh design. But I’m still using the Geometry book, for recipes and writing inspiration.

Creating a completely new shape would need some serious time and creativity.

Creating Cascatelli, a new pasta shape

Three years ago US-based podcaster from The Sporkful and writer Dan Pashman had a similar thought. Frustrated by the way that his spaghetti too often turned mushy or didn’t hold the sauce, his imagination sparked into life … to design a completely new shape, one that suited his needs better. ‘Spaghetti sucks’, he says!

The new shape was created in collaboration with the artisans at Sfoglini, pasta makers in New York state. Cascatelli is designed to maximize the three qualities by which Dan believes all pasta shapes should be judged:

  • Sauceability:  How readily sauce adheres to the shape
  • Forkability:  How easy it is to get the shape on your fork and keep it there
  • Toothsinkability: How satisfying it is to sink your teeth into it

To listen to Dan’s joyful, frustrating, inspiring quest tune into his podcast The Sporkful, which describes itself as being ‘not for foodies, but for eaters’. It’s a fascinating listen that delves into the design and engineering complexity involved in creating a new shape, not least getting right angles cut into pasta, and selecting ingredients, working with established industry designers and companies capable of making the cutters and dies that ultimately shape the pasta.

What do you think of this new shape? Beautiful, ugly, practical, cheeky, goes against tradition! Please leave a comment or you can reply on the @lemongrovepics instagram account.

Follow @sfoglini and Dan @thesporkful for shipping updates.

pile of assorted small pasta types scattered on table
There are hundreds of shapes, designed to hold sauces and other ingredients. Photo by Klaus Nielsen on

Bruce McMichael

Food writing, discovering food stories, meeting producers, chefs and food enthusiasts are all part of desire to inspire, inform my readers and fellow food lovers. I am a freelance writer, journalist and published author focusing on the international world of food and drink, culture and travel. In 2019 I graduated from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy with a Masters in Food Culture, Communication and Marketing. I am now a visiting Professor at the university teaching Food & Drink Writing. Based in London I travel widely, particularly across western Europe. I have chaired many conferences and meetings, spoken at conferences and events and often appear on radio and TV talking most about food, the business of food and being an entrepreneur. In 2017 I won an episode of the ITV (the UK-based national television channel) cooking competition show, 'Gordon Ramsay's Culinary Genius'. I took my children on holiday to Sicily with the prize money. As an experienced farmers' market manager and operator of a small marmalade/ preserves company, I am very familiar with the issues surrounding local food, farming, enterprise and the environment.