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TO QUOTE RACHEL Handler, “What the Hole Is Going On? The very real, totally bizarre bucatini shortage of 2020.”

Image of bucatini pasta from “Grub Street” New York Magazine.

The story of this extruded pasta is compelling. Rachel Handler’s investigative journalism in New York Magazine‘s “Grub Street,” December 28, 2020,  is highly entertaining. Here in Parts 1 and 2 today and tomorrow are tidbits gleaned from her exposé, together with my usual Internet sleuthing.

Previous SimanaitisSays Pasta. EMPs (enriched macaroni products, as they’re defined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration) are not overlooked by SimanaitisSays: See Giorgio Giugiaro’s Voielle Marille and my Mezzanote Pappardelle.

Above, Guigaro’s Voielle Marille; Below, my Mezzanote Pappardelle.

This is the first time, though, that a pasta story here has provided such nefarious saucing.

Rachel Handler’s Discovery. “Things first began to feel off in March,” Rachel writes, “While this sentiment applies to everything in the known and unknown universe, I mean it specifically in regard to America’s supply of dry, store-bought bucatini.” 

Why her affinity for this spaghetti-like thick pasta with a hole in it? “If you boil bucatini for 50 percent of the time the box tells you to, cooking it perfectly al dente, you will experience a textural experience like nothing else you have encountered in your natural life. When cooked correctly, bucatini bites back. It is a responsive noodle. It is a self-aware noodle. In these times, when human social interaction carries with it the possible price of illness, bucatini offers an alternative: a social interaction with a pasta.”

Sicilian Bucatini With Sardines.

Google and Mom. My mom was not Sicilian, but I’d bet she would have liked‘s Sicilian Bucatini. I sure do.

“I Googled ‘bucatini shortage,’ ” Rachel writes, “and found only one article on the topic from April 2020, wherein SNL star and Vulture alum Bowen Yang lamented to W magazine, ‘There’s more of a bucatini scarcity problem than there is a toilet-paper issue, I think.’ ”

Rachel’s mother got involved as well, emailing the head of customer service at Italy’s De Cecco, “her preferred bucatini brand.”  The response: “BUONGIORNO SIG. Si sono sempre in produzione. Mi potete fornire il paese.” (“GOOD MORNING SIR. Yes, they are always in production. Can you supply me with the country?”)

Her mother responded, followed by “a phone call from a man named Brian who was, apparently, her regional De Cecco sales executive. He left a voicemail: ‘I did get your message that you’re seeking bucatini,’ said Brian. ‘Bucatini is on FDA hold. We are still producing it, but there were some issues, some hiccups with the FDA.’ “

“FDA hold?” “Hiccups at the FDA?” I believe this pasta story is nearing al dente. It continues tomorrow in Part 2. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2021 

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