Not cooking your pasta “al dente” is a “crime” (and science says so)

“It would have been perfect without a little overcooking”, “too bad, it’s a little overcooked”… Fans of culinary shows like Top Chef know that nothing irritates a chef more than an overcooked dish. . And if this overcooking applies to pasta, we might as well tell you that we are close to a diplomatic incident. Until then, the question of the proper cooking of pasta, which is particularly divisive in France, had not been settled by science.

It is now done thanks to a scientific study with the evocative name recently published, “al dente or well done? How can the consumption rate of a pasta dish be predicted by the consumption rate of its components? This recently published study in the journal Elsevier Food Quality and Preference investigated the ociation between consumption speed, energy intake and food texture.

The softer it is, the more we eat

The researchers brought together a sample of 54 foodies aged 18 to 55, who each ate four different pasta dishes over a three-day period. Dishes contained penne and carrots, cooked either hard or soft, and some came with a sauce. Participants noted their food intake and rated their appetite, hunger, satiety, thirst and desire to eat before consuming the pasta.

The result confirms this: the soft-textured pasta dishes (with also overcooked carrots) were eaten 45% faster than the same harder-textured dish. Overall, softness and therefore overcooking of foods was ociated with increased consumption rates. Another element revealed by this scientific study: the softer the pasta, the more sauce the sample consumes (+30%). The study therefore concludes that “this information provides guidance on how to compose meals that moderate both eating rate and energy intake. This rate of consumption is fundamental in the physiological response to food ingestion, blood sugar and therefore weight control. Clearly, eating foods – pasta or other – that are overcooked is not good for your health.

“If we have teeth, it’s for chewing”

All this, finally, the Italians already knew, as confirmed by Simone Zanoni. ” Everything that is al dente is a bit scary today”, ironically the Italian chef of the George V in Paris. “We are afraid to chew, we go for soft foods. The meats that work best are, for example, those that melt in the mouth. Whereas if we have mouths and teeth, it’s for chewing,” exclaims the starred chef.

“An overcooked vegetable loses its nutrients and loses its taste. It’s the same with pasta. When a pasta is overcooked, I feel like I’m eating a compote. It’s a crime ! “, protests the pope of the “pasta” in France. “When you have a little mash, taste-wise, the dough is much better. The sauce is already melting, we don’t need more”, he underlines again in his singing accent.

The transalpine chef is completely in line with the scientific demonstration mentioned above. ” A pasta al dente* is more easily digested, increases the feeling of satiety and is less glycemic. It is a very important element, especially in what is called the Mediterranean diet”, abounds the great cook. “Italian cuisine has found a new playground in France, thanks to the messages that are transmitted on ideal cooking and the French are evolving on the issue”, wants to believe Simone Zanoni. And besides, it’s also scientific.

*Simone Zanoni recommends taking 2 minutes off the cooking time specified on your pasta packets for perfectly “al dente” “Zanoni” cooking.

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