Unveiling the Joy of Pasta: Brain Research Reveals It Rivals Music and Sports, we list 7 Greek Pasta Varieties

Κοτόπουλο με χυλοπίτες

New research from the "Behavior & Brain Lab" at the Free University of Languages and Communication has shed light on the fascinating link between pasta and happiness. Employing cutting-edge brain tracking technology, scientists have discovered that the pleasure derived from consuming pasta rivals, and even surpasses, the joy experienced during our favourite music or sports events.

This groundbreaking study highlights the profound impact that pasta can have on our emotional and cognitive states. The research suggests that indulging in a delicious plate of pasta not only triggers physical pleasure receptors in our taste buds but also activates areas of the brain associated with happiness, reward, and positive emotions.

Here's a glimpse into the world of Greek pasta varieties:

Traditional Shapes:

  • Hilopites or Chilopites: Chilopites is a traditional Greek pasta variety hailing from Crete. It's usually handmade by women at the end of summer. The pasta is typically made with flour, water or milk, olive oil, eggs, and some salt. Depending on the area, the dough is cut into narrow stripes or small rectangles. Also known as hylopites or hilopites, the pasta is dried under the summer sun before it's stored in white sachets by housewives in order to be used in the winter. It's recommended to serve chilopites with grated myzithra cheese and tomato sauce.
  • Flomaria: is a variety of Greek pasta produced on the island of Lemnos in the northern Aegean Sea. It combines a local variety of hard wheat flour (mavragani flour) with fresh eggs and sheep’s or goat’s milk. After drying, the pasta can be cut in two different shapes: short and thin string-like strands resembling matches or flat and narrow linguine-like strands. Traditionally, flomaria is prepared during the summer and kept in cotton satchels for future use.In the past, local women used to gather at their houses to help each other make pasta for their families, and the preparation of flomaria signified a time of great communal joy, celebration, and mutual work. That practice is less common nowadays, although some still make the pasta at home.  Flomaria is a versatile ingredient, and it is commonly paired with butter and cheese or served as an accompaniment to poultry, meat, game, or snails. It is often added to traditional Lemnian soups and specialties such as pseftopetino (eggplants with tomato sauce), rooster or partridge with tomato sauce, and vegetable gravies.
  • Kritharaki:  Not to be confused with the Italian word for barley (orzo), this Italian shortcut pasta is similar in shape and size to a grain of rice. Like other traditional Italian pasta types, it is best when made with hard wheat, preferably durum wheat. The shape of orzo pasta is always similar, but the colour and taste are occasionally altered by adding various vegetables. Orzo is a highly versatile pasta variety used in numerous dishes – its shape lends it particularly well to soups and is an irreplaceable part of the famous minestrone. Orzo pasta is also commonly used as an ingredient in cold salads, as a vegetable stuffing, and in various casserole dishes. 
  • Makaronia or Makarounes: Makarounes is a variety of Greek pasta that is prepared throughout the islands of the northeast Aegean Sea. The pasta has a long tradition on the island of Karpathos. It's typically made with flour and water and without any eggs. There are no strict measurements of the ingredients, and even the process of making the pasta often varies from family to family. The pasta dough is first rolled out and cut into long and thin strands, then into smaller pieces, which are rolled and shaped into small pasta shells using one’s fingers. Boiled makarounes are the key ingredient of a local pasta specialty that combines the pasta shells with sautéed onions, garlic, butter, and a generous amount of grated local sheep’s or goat’s cheese such as myzithra.
  • Chilopites: a traditional Greek pasta variety hailing from Crete. It's usually handmade by women at the end of summer. The pasta is typically made with flour, water or milk, olive oil, eggs, and some salt. Depending on the area, the dough is cut into narrow stripes or small rectangles. Also known as hylopites or hilopites, the pasta is dried under the summer sun before it's stored in white sachets by housewives for winter use. It's recommended to serve chilopites with grated myzithra cheese and tomato sauce.
  • Trahana is a traditional Greek pasta-like product consisting of small coarse granules that are made by combining wheat and dairy products such as milk, sour milk, buttermilk, or yogurt. This product is believed to have ancient origins, and the age-old tradition of its preparation is thought to have initially been a means of preserving milk in pre-refrigeration times. It is typically prepared with wheat flour, semolina flour, cracked wheat, or bulgur (especially on Crete), while some versions may also call for adding eggs. Traditionally, the mixture is dried in the sun before it’s broken up into uneven-shaped pieces, or it can be first boiled to a porridge-like consistency and then sun-dried. There are several different varieties of trahana depending on the dairy product used for its preparation, namely sour trahana, which is made with sour milk, yogurt, buttermilk and flour. Sour trahana with eggs and sweet trahana, which consists of sheep’s or goat’s milk (or a mixture of both kinds) and flour.
  • Skioufichta is a traditional handmade Cretan pasta. It's made from whole-wheat flour, salt, water, and olive oil or butter. The dough is rolled into thin strips and then cut into pieces that are pressed with a spiral movement of the fingers, resulting in the typical twisted shape of the pasta. The name of the pasta is derived from the word skioufizo, meaning to twist, referring to this method of production that requires experience and skill. Traditional recipes call for ''burning'' the pasta in butter, then topping it with large amounts of grated anthotyro or myzithra cheese.
Skioufichta
Skioufichta

Unique Flavors:

  • Pastitsio: A layered casserole featuring ground meat sauce, béchamel sauce, and tubular pasta. Imagine rich, savoury flavours dancing on your tongue as you savour each bite of this classic Greek comfort food.
  • Moussaka: Similar to pastitsio but featuring a layer of eggplant, creating a smoky and savoury experience. Picture an explosion of textures and flavours in each mouthful, with the creamy béchamel contrasting beautifully with the firm eggplant and juicy meat.
  • Giouvarlakia: Savory meatballs simmered in a light tomato sauce or a delicate lemon and egg sauce. Imagine tender, flavorful meatballs bathed in a vibrant sauce, ready to melt in your mouth and leave you wanting more.
  • Spaghetti me Anthotyro: Spaghetti tossed in a buttery sauce with creamy anthotyro, a mild-tasting Greek cheese. Picture a simple yet elegant dish, the subtle sweetness of the cheese complementing the rich pasta and creating a delightful harmony of flavours.
  • Kotopoulo me Kritharaki: Chicken pieces simmered with orzo in a light tomato sauce. Imagine a comforting and flavorful dish, the tender chicken and orzo bathed in a vibrant sauce, perfect for a satisfying meal.

Beyond the Classics:

Greek cuisine also offers a variety of regional pasta dishes, each with its own unique flavour profile and cultural significance. For example, Crete is known for its sioufichta, small, twisted pasta resembling barley, while Chios boasts spartou, a handmade pasta shaped like hollow cylinders.

Advertisment

Copyright Greekcitytimes 2024