Pasta is as inseparable from Italy as pizza or ancient Rome. Spaghetti has arguably done more for Italy’s international standing than decades of politicking and diplomacy could ever hope to achieve. Every Italian should be proud of what their country has managed to do with eggs, flour and boiling water.
However, just because Italian noodles steal the headlines doesn’t mean that they’re the only nation with a proud pasta heritage. To prove that there are plenty of other exciting places to eat the ultimate comfort food, we’ve compiled a guide to some other, less established pasta traditions. They might not be as famous, but they’re certainly no less tasty. Here are the best pasta dishes that aren’t from Italy.
Baked Ziti - USA
Iconic for its regular appearance on classic HBO series The Sopranos, baked ziti is the oven-cooked pasta dish for all occasions.
Whether you’re after something quick and tasty to keep the whole family happy or you need some carby nourishment after whacking one of your gangland rivals, this tomato-based casserole is the blueprint for every pasta bake around the world. Usually served with roasted veggies, ground meat or some mixture of the two, you know baked ziti will deliver the goods.
Chicken Noodle Soup - Various
Anyone who claims to know exactly who it was that first decided to combine leftover chicken bits, broth and noodles should never be trusted ever again.
The quintessential comfort food from Eastern Europe to the United States, chicken noodle soup is living proof that no one nation can totally lay claim to pasta. If you’re suffering from the sniffles, this is the only bowl you’ll ever need.
Filipino Spaghetti - Philippines
The fast-food industry’s various attempts to get to grips with the complex art of pasta making rarely end well. However, in Philippino chain Jollibee’s signature spaghetti, we have evidence that it doesn’t always end in disaster.
Ubiquitous at special occasions, Filipino spaghetti is typically much sweeter than its Italian counterpart and can include extras as diverse as sliced hot dogs and SPAM.
Mac And Cheese - Various
Much like chicken noodle soup, no one really knows who it was who first decided to load a dish with creamy, cheesy elbow pasta, cram it into an oven and wait for the magic to happen - except that they definitely weren’t Italian.
It might be a far cry from the delicately nuanced pasta plates that dot Italy’s foodie landscape, but mac and cheese might well now eclipse all of them as the most popular on the planet. Whether you upgrade it with lobster or keep it quick and straightforward, mac and cheese will always be simply delicious.
Spaghetti Sandwich - Japan
Unless you’re feeling the worse for wear after a night on the town, carb-on-carb sandwiches are generally best left well alone. In Japan, however, stuffing a baguette full of spaghetti isn’t acceptable only after several pints, but forms a key part of a commute.
Served at subway stations up and down the country, spaghetti sandwiches typically feature parmesan cheese, tomato sauce, pasta and herbs, all served inside a soft white roll. It might seem slightly unusual, but it certainly beats a bowl of bone-dry granola.
Pastitsio - Greece
Given their proximity, it makes sense that Greek and Italian foods have been bouncing off each other for centuries. Perhaps the tastiest result of direct and indirect culinary influence is pastitsio - a lasagna-esque dish typically made with meat, tomato sauce and bechamel.
Pastitsios usually use thin tubes of pasta rather than long single sheets, making them look more like an abandoned beehive than their Italian counterparts. As with many of the tastiest things, appearances can be deceiving.
Sorrentinos - Argentina
Nothing makes the case for immigration quite as effectively as a plate of something delicious. Named after the Italian city of Sorrento, invented by Italian immigrants and embraced with open arms by the nation of Argentina, sorrentinos are all the evidence we need that learning from friends around the world can only be a good thing.
Essentially giant ravioli balls stuffed with mozzarella and slow-cooked meat and typically served in a rich ragu, it’s small wonder that this pasta dish is now as much a part of Argentina as steak and Malbec.