I noticed some questions about fresh Lasagne sheets and it reminded me of something I heard, but sadly too long ago to be able to attribute although probably a chef on TV (I'm un the UK), and that was that Italians always use dried pasta and that fresh pasta was just something that had become popular outside Italy, probably because anything "fresh" always sounds as if it should be good. So, great for supermarkets and chefs!

Please note, I realise that certain pasta must be fresh, for instance when making ravioli. I'm really just referring to spaghetti, tagliatelle, linguine etc.

Also, although Italians (are said) to use dried pasta it is not just a convenience; they are still concerned about the quality of the pasta and may even make it and dry it themselves.

So, to summarise, is it true that Italians generally use dried pasta and that fresh pasta, other than where obviously required, is really just a marketing concept to get people to pay more?

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    Sorry, when trying to decipher what you are actually asking, the most likely explanation I had is that you are asking if dry pasta is better than fresh pasta or vice versa, which would be off topic. Asking why fresh pasta is popular would also be off topic. The only related on-topic question I imagine is that you are asking whether there is a difference in taste/texture after the pasta is cooked, but from the comments it seems that you already know that there is. If that was the question, you can edit, such that it is clear you are not askin which one should be preferred, and flag for reopen. – rumtscho Mar 8 '19 at 14:53
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    @rumtscho It seems like a clear question now...Is "fresh pasta" a marketing scheme to get people to pay more for their pasta? The answers below address that in a manner that avoids opinions, but expresses how pasta in Italy is used as an ingredient in Italian cuisine. – moscafj Mar 8 '19 at 16:04
  • @moscafj to show that there is a marketing ploy, one would have to show that 1) Dry pasta (DP) is either a) better than, or b) indistinguishable from, fresh pasta (FP), 2) it is more profitable to sell FP than DP, 3) there is a fashion trend in using FP, and 4) the fashion trend was intentionally started by somebody who makes FP or is paid by FP makers. Points 1b, 2,3 and 4 are off topic. Point 1a is on topic, and I am glad that the existing answers focus on it, but the question in its current form still invites discussion on the others. I would reopen if it is edited to focus on 1a only – rumtscho Mar 8 '19 at 17:12
  • and then the existing answers would still fit. But as the question is stated, it is largely off topic, and should stay closed. Also, "do Italians use more dry pasta than fresh pasta" is also off topic, statistics about food usage are also not on our topic list. – rumtscho Mar 8 '19 at 17:13
  • Blimey, tough gig! – spodger Mar 11 '19 at 8:46

There is a definite difference in the texture of pasta cooked from freshly prepared dough vs dried - 'better' is a very subjective thing in this context; for some applications the more firm texture you obtain from dried pasta is preferable, e.g. helping the dish retain its structure. For others, fresh dough, cooking very quickly prevents overcooking of stuffing. The texture in your mouth changes too, but which one is preferable is a matter of individual taste.

So, it would be very arguable to claim one or the other is 'better', but 'fresh pasta' simply caters to people who prefer it over dried, as a personal preference... and may accidentally capture a segment of the market of people buying into the 'freshness = quality' belief. I don't think it was the main motivation behind putting it on market, and it's not some scam - just a slightly different product.

  • Agree about better being subjective but it really was just Italian cuisine/customs that I was concerned with. – spodger Mar 8 '19 at 14:11
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    @spodger: In that case moscafj answers it better: There's no single Italian cuisine, and no single type or preparation of Italian pasta. – SF. Mar 8 '19 at 14:25

Traditionally, fresh pasta made with soft flour and eggs is used in the northern part of Italy (roughly Tuscany and northwards), while dried durum wheat pasta is used in the south. The traditional recipes reflect this, at least according to Giulia Scarpaleggia the only traditional Tuscan dish using dried pasta is penne strascicate. In the modern world things aren't so cut in stone, dried pasta is used extensively in the north as well because it's convenient. If you're following a specific recipe you should use the kind called for. Tagliatelle al ragù should be prepared with fresh pasta for instance, because it's from Bologna. As you say filled pasta is best fresh.

  • That's an interesting distinction - North/South. Maybe I misremember and it was specifically dried spaghetti, which I believe is generally eaten in the South. – spodger Mar 8 '19 at 14:08

Firstly, there is no one way Italians use pasta. Italian cuisine is defined regionally, and each region's cuisine approaches pasta somewhat differently. Secondly, it might be better to consider fresh and dried pasta almost as different ingredients. They produce different results and are used in different dishes. I presume that more dried/factory produced pasta is consumed than fresh both in Italy and elsewhere, simply for reasons of convenience. However, it is not just "marketing", in my opinion. Fresh pasta, in the correct applications, is delicious, and the correct ingredient for the dish.

  • Thanks for taking the time to answer and suggesting looking at them as different ingredients. Maybe I need to buy a decent Italian cookbook! – spodger Mar 8 '19 at 14:14

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