It's important to not consider pastas on their own merits alone, but their part in the greater whole that is the meal. Granted, for most sane people, a meal only has one pasta in it, but let's ignore that for now. Consider this particular dish the theme upon which the rest of the day's food is a variation.
Pictured here is Exposition - a blank slate!
A restatement of the original theme, with slight variation. Those of you who know a thing or two about today's subject may be balking at the lack of a development pasta, but I must remind you that any and all development occurs after consumption of the pasta.
Pictured here is Recapitulation - have we seen this before, or something like it?
Italian for "little joke", this dish comes as a complete shock when presented in the conext of the meal at large - everything is different from what we've come to expect! There we were, enjoying stringllike noodles with a meaty tomato sauce, and the rug is thus pulled out from under us! And yet, this light playfulness does not detract from the gravity of the piece.
Pictured here is Scherzo - do you get it?
Gratuitious vocal self-indulgence was an art form long before Whitney Houston - composers of both music and pasta have made use of the cadenza, an improvised bit of virtuosic play, for centuries. There's nothing more gratuitous than italian sauage, of course, and do you see here how the exuberant and flashy use of freshly-sliced herbs stops just short of garish, and serves to accentuate the dish?
Pictured here is Cadenza - hold that last note!
There is perhaps no dish more quintessentially Olive Garden than The Classic. When people with wry, smirking sneers on their face compare the Olive Garden to "s'getti night at Aunt Miriam's", they're thinking of the Classic. I've always had a soft spot for this dish - my own Thursday nights with Aunt Miriam notwithstanding.
Pictured here is The Classic, and, c'mon, pretty good photo, huh?
What if instead of fertilizing our crops with chemically engineered phosphorus, we used pasta? And if the runoff from that fertilizer got into the water supply, instead of algae blooms creating a deadly neurotoxin, they created a delicious cheese sauce?! That's basically the premise of this dish.
Pictured here is Orange Tide - surf's up!
Anyone who went to a public elementary school remembers that the spaghetti served there is remarkably similar to Olive Garden's, in the inconsistency of the cooking and the "wetness" of the pasta itself. This dish immediately brings me back to 4th grade, swappin' Pokemon cards and being scared of girls.
Pictured here is School Lunch, and I just realized I haven't changed a bit since 4th grade.
I live in Fargo, North Dakota, and here, we have a certain mindset about restaurants: food shouldn't cost more than a quality hammer, or other piece of sensible hardware. This limit varies from person to person, but generally hovers around eighteen dollars. If you're paying more than that for your entree, you're being hoodwinked by some city-slicker who pays too much attention to putting a sauce in a zig-zag pattern on a white plate, and not enough attention to down-home small-town values.
Pictured here is Eighteen Dollar Entree - bread crumbs? Mushrooms? What is this, Seattle?!
Defined by the untamed spirit of the natural world, Art Nouveau frees itself from the hard edges and sharply-defined points of previous schools. Note the sinuous lines and whiplash curves of the cavatappi.
Pictured here is Art Nouveau - see how the meat sauce flows naturally over the pasta?
Literally "unformed art", Art Informel is what typically comes to mind when people who "don't know art, but know what [they] like" imagine abstract art. This is art that is clearly made by fingerpainting, and has an entire sentence as the title. The pure decadence and unrestrained hedonism of this cream-and-cheese based dish reflects well the school of unrepentant self-indulgence.
Pictured here is Art Informel - come on, my five year old could eat that.
Ah, the modern age! A new century (the 20th, that is) and the promises it brings. Factories, assembly lines, mass production! A country obsessed with efficient and streamlined workforce tends toward efficient and streamlined art. Expect to see functional, utilitarian straight lines, and embellishments that are intricate without being flowery - like the rigid penne seen here.
Pictured here is Art Deco - it's like something out of Bioshock!
Also called "outsider art", Art Brut is created by those not typically considered artists, such as the mentally ill. These artists create works with unusual materials, limited skill, and incomplete control of their faculties. That said, never has a work of Art Brut been discovered that nears the bizarre incomprehensibility of this dish.
Pictured here is Art Brut, which an adult human being with a three-digit IQ prepared, assembled, and served to me, apparently with no qualms whatsoever.