The Geometry of Pasta is book you can’t miss. That title by itself seems unusual. Since Brian is both a foodie and a mathematician, I just had to this book up for him. The book’s physical design is exceptional: clean Deco-style fonts in stark black ink on linen white paper. Each page has a film noir quality. And the recipes are excellent, either Italian classics or new variations carefully executed by an exceptional chef.

Geometry has two authors: Caz Hildebrand who specializes in cookbook design for others and Jacob Kenedy, an award winning London restaurateur.

The idea behind this book is simple: what are the different kinds of Italian pasta, how are they made, and how can they be used. Geometry begins with a discussion of the regional differences, reflecting the relative wealth and availability of ingredients in different parts of Italy.

There are solid, yet easy instructions for making pasta and tomato sauces. And the book is wise in reminding us that pasta from two Italian villages a just a few miles apart can be two completely different experiences. For food aficionados and historians, Geometry is a wonderful resource.

After that instruction, you have 270 encyclopedic pages of descriptions, recipes and diagrams. Starting with Angolotti and ending with Ziti, there are mini chapters devoted to each pasta type. How to make them, what goes with them, and some ideal recipes. Caz includes very stylish graphic renditions of each pasta type. It makes you want to contact her for new kitchen wallpaper.

We wanted a quick, simple and yet striking pasta dish for tonight. We found just the recipe and smiled through second helpings. It’s Tagliolini Con Granchio or Tagliolini with Crab. Oh, tagliolini is very thinly cut tagliatelli. You can make your own using the recipes in Geometry or, truthfully, do what we did and simply use tagliatelli.

If you follow a tradition of fish on Christmas Eve, then here’s a fish dish that can serve as a lovely first or main course. If you are having a holiday party, this dish with a crisp salad and brisk white wine will make your guests think you are a kitchen whiz. And, if you prepare this dish, you will be.

Tagliolini con Granchio

Yield:  4 large or 6 smallish serving


  • 1/3 pound dried tagliolini or ½ pound fresh
  • 2 mildish fresh red chilies, seeded and finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 ½ ounces born crab meat, carefully picked over
  • ½ pound white crab meat, carefully picked over
  • Grated zest of one lemon


The sauce is quick to make, so you can start at the same time as the past hit s the water.

Put the chilies, garlic, and oil into a cold pan, and heat over medium flame until it sizzles. Add the brown crab meat alone with about 6 tablespoons of the past water, and break up with a wooden spoon to make a sauce. Add the white crab meat and lemon zest to warm through now, stirring gently so as to keep intact any lumps of crab meat. Drain the past when al dente, add to the sauce, and stir together to mix, then remove from the heat and serve.

Three tablespoons of chopped parsley won’t go amiss, but aren’t necessary. A tablespoon of shredded mint tastes nice, in an unauthentic way.

Source: The Geometry of Pasta by Caz Hildebrand and Jacob Kenedy