Savor the Pasta, Enjoy the Trivia

Quirky Fun Facts Surround Must-Have Comfort Food


For your enjoyment while making plans to dine with us, the Mansion Grand, featuring Alissia’s Cafe, on Staten Island’s Great Kills Harbor rim has assembled some pasta postings from the nooks and crannies of the food world.

The word “pasta” comes from the Italian word for paste – a combination of flour and water – and according to “I Love Pasta,” there are more than 600 shapes worldwide. [from a Yahoo compilation of pasta facts]

Long pastas are best with seafood like muscles and clams, which tend to be oily. This oil helps the long pasta swirl onto your fork. [Pasta Recipes Made Easy]

Speaking of a fork, according to Miss Manners (a.k.a. Judith Martin), it’s the only utensil that may be used to eat spaghetti while anyone is looking. [Yahoo compilation]

It is a myth that adding olive oil to cooking water will prevent pasta from sticking. However, lesser-quality pastas tend to stick and clump. Good-quality pasta should not do this, and so using olive oil just may be a waste of good oil because it remains in the cooking water. []

As for quality, in the 13th century, the Pope set quality standards for pasta. [Yahoo compilation]

When you are cooking, a simple trick to stop pasta from boiling over is to place a wooden spoon across the top of the pan. [Pasta Recipes Made Easy]

In the United States, top-quality pasta is made from durum wheat grown in North Dakota, and the U.S. produces 1.9 million tons of pasta per year. The average person in North America eats about 15 pounds of it in a year. [Yahoo compilation]

Still entertaining millions of people, the deadpan 1957 “Swiss Spaghetti Harvest” BBC film spoof is a gem. It tells of spaghetti emerging from spring blooms and depicts folks gathering strands from trees. Hint: It was first broadcast April 1. Actual spaghetti created the effect. [YouTube]

The first American pasta factory opened in Brooklyn in 1848. Antoine Zerega, a Frenchman, had a horse in his basement to power the machinery. Zerega then placed the strands on his roof to dry. [Mobile Cuisine]

Avoid rinsing pasta after it cooks and is drained. While being cooked, pasta’s starches mix with the water. These help the sauce cling better to the pasta. One exception to not rinsing is for pasta salad. Then, use cold water to prevent the pasta from overcooking. []

Meat and ricotta sauces are better suited to small pasta shapes. With their large, uneven surfaces, pastas like rigatoni, shells, penne and fusilli can hold more sauce. [Pasta Recipes Made Easy]

Pasta existed for thousands of years before anyone thought to put tomato sauce on it. [Yahoo compilation]

The first box recipe appeared in 1802 and was for macaroni and cheese. The recipe was printed on paper surrounding the pasta in the box. Mac and cheese has remained among America’s top 10 comfort foods for decades and is the number-one cheese recipe in the United States.

In any given 12-week period, approximately one-third of the U.S. population will eat mac and cheese at least once, and about half of all children will have it.

The most popular cheese with mac is cheddar, and the wine recommended to accompany this dish is Burgundy. []

About the Mansion Grand, featuring Alissia’s Café

Overlooking the panoramic vista of Great Kills Harbor, the Mansion Grand, featuring Alissia’s Café, is a popular Staten Island, N.Y., destination for catered banquets, Italian/Continental a la carte dining, and gourmet prix fixe dinners from $19.95.

The iconic establishment, once known as the Marina Grand, is located at 141 Mansion Ave., in the community of Great Kills.

For reservations, additional information, or inclusion on the Mansion Grand/Alissia’s Café email list of special offers, call 718-605-9200, or log onto