Unless you own an enormous pot (or you’re a true Italian), chances are you snap your spaghetti in two before tossing it into the boiling water. But unless you’re superhuman, when you break that pasta in half you’ve probably dealt with those tiny pieces of dried pasta breaking off and whizzing through the air. At some point you may have wondered why spaghetti doesn’t just simply snap in half, or if there is a better way to do so.
As it turns out, in 2006, a pair of scientists took to solving this kitchen dilemma. Essentially, what happens is that the dry noodle bends before it breaks. This extra power means that when it finally breaks, it does so with more power and the vibrations it sends back through the remaining pieces cause them to bend and break as well. The discovery won the scientists an Ig Nobel, but they failed to answer how cooks can overcome the vibrations effect and make a clean break.
But a new study, conducted by mathematicians Vishal Patil and Ronald Heisser, published recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences finally answer this question. The two grad students and their three co-authors explained that the best way to avoid excess breakage is to twist the pasta.
“When you twist it, you don’t have to bend it as much before it breaks,” Patil told NPR. “When there’s less bending in it, the snap-back — as the spaghetti tries to become a straight rod again — is weakened, so that no more factories can occur. Ordinarily, when the spaghetti breaks, the snap-back is strong enough to create more fractures along the rod.”
Sadly, our own human twisting powers aren’t enough to take advantage of this new discovery. By using a machine they invented, the researchers found that the amount of twisting force required is just outside the strength of our bare hands.
But i’s good to know that breaking pasta in two is possible, and even more so that when you make a mess in your kitchen with those dried pasta pieces, it nothing that you can change. So go on, snap away!
For ingredients and cooking supplies, everybodyshops.com.