The Biggest Mistake Americans Make When Cooking Pasta, According to Giovanni Rana

updated May 24, 2019
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(Image credit: Leela Cyd)

You’ve been making pasta for yourself since college or maybe even high school or earlier, right? You probably have a million (or at least a dozen) pasta dishes in your repertoire that you can make without even thinking about it. What if you’ve been making one big mistake this whole time, though?

I got to go to Italy to meet Giovanni Rana (you might recognize his face from his pasta packaging, which can be found in the refrigerated section at the grocery store) to see how the sausage, er, pasta is made.

I asked him, through a translator, to tell me the biggest mistake Americans make when it comes to cooking pasta at home. The translator wasn’t even finished with the question before he had his response ready.

The Biggest Mistake Americans Make When Cooking Pasta

“Ninety percent of the time, the mistake is letting the pasta cook for too long,” he says. “All the rest — how much sauce, what goes into the sauce, for example — is a personal preference. Many people just don’t trust the time on the package.”

Obviously, the thicker the pasta, the more time it will need in the pot, but even then, it’s not that much time. And you probably don’t need to add time to what the package instructs.

“Don’t have a long conversation or go off to do some work while your pasta is cooking,” he adds. Just wait. Stand there and wait. “You need to do so little to get pasta to come out so well.”

Later that day, during a tour of the factory, Giovanni’s son, Gian Luca, told me that the company had a fresh noodle on the market in the United States that was 6/10 of a millimeter thick and cooked in about one minute. (That’s fast — even for fresh pasta, which cooks faster than dried!) But Americans thought the timing was too short and the product just didn’t work in the States.

(Image credit: Giovanni Rana )

Home cooks would dump the pasta into boiling water and then run to the laundry to throw in a load only to find that their pasta had overcooked while they were away. Long story short, the Giovanni Rana pasta offerings on American store shelves now cook for at least two minutes!

What do you think? Do you make this mistake at home?