Pasta (Italian pronunciation: [ˈpasta]) is a staple food of traditional Italian cuisine, with the first reference dating to 1154 in Sicily. Also commonly used to refer to the variety of pasta dishes, pasta is typically made from an unleavened dough of a durum wheat flour mixed with water or eggs and formed into sheets or various shapes, then cooked by boiling or baking. As an alternative for those wanting a different taste, or who need to avoid products containing gluten, some pastas can be made using rice flour in place of wheat. Pastas may be divided into two broad categories, dried (pasta secca) and fresh (pasta fresca). Most dried pasta is commercially produced via an extrusion process although it can be produced in most homes. Fresh pasta was traditionally produced by hand, sometimes with the aid of simple machines, but today many varieties of fresh pasta are also commercially produced by large-scale machines, and the products are widely available in supermarkets. Both dried and fresh pasta come in a number of shapes and varieties, with 310 specific forms known variably by over 1300 names having been documented. In Italy the names of specific pasta shapes or types often vary with locale. For example, the form cavatelli is known by 28 different names depending on region and town. Common forms of pasta include long shapes, short shapes, tubes, flat shapes and sheets, miniature soup shapes, filled or stuffed and specialty or decorative shapes.
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