Are You a Pasta Window Shopper?

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penne pasta smothered in tomato sauce

Do you daydream about pasta? Do visions of angel hair dance in your head? How about fusilli and farfalle, linguine and lasagna, rigatoni and rotini, tortellini and tagliatelle? Yet, even as you muse about masses of macaroni, manicotti and mostaccioli, if you are like many Americans you may actually be eating less pasta than you used to.

Peculiarly, “window shopping for pasta” seems to be a thing at the moment, the Washington Post reports. According to the paper’s Wonkblog, Google’s annual report about the foods for which Americans search the most reveals that our interest in pasta is on the rise, with searches increasing for pastas in a variety of shapes and sizes. Interest in rigatoni alone has climbed 26 percent in the past year.

At the same time, Wonkblog notes, citing data from Nielsen research, sales of pasta are actually declining — they are 1 percent lower this year than last year, when they were 1.5 percent lower than the year before. In fact, dried-pasta sales in the United States have tumbled 6 percent since 2009, and the downward trend is expected to continue through 2019 and perhaps beyond.

“Taken together, these two realizations are, well, kind of weird,” Wonkblog’s Roberto A. Ferdman writes. “People are searching more and more for pasta just as they’re eating less and less of it. They’re ogling it even though they are also slowly abandoning it.”

What gives?

Ferdman posits that the decline in dried-pasta consumption may result from the current trend for cutting carbs and from our growing focus on nutrition, neither of which may prompt us to reach for the box of dried pasta. Yet we are buying more refrigerated or fresh pasta, he notes, suggesting that it may seem less processed and therefore healthier.

“In other words, it isn’t necessarily that people don’t want to eat more pasta — it’s just that they feel like they should probably cut down,” he writes. “And in that light, the rise of pasta window shopping seems to make a little more sense. Perhaps people are Googling recipes and contemplating pasta dinner outings online more often to compensate. Maybe they’re trying to make the most out of each pasta meal, now that those meals are a touch less frequent.”

Here are some yummy-looking dishes to feed your addiction:

Summer Pasta Dinners

One-Pot Pastas 

5-Star Pasta Recipes

Healthy Pasta Dinner Recipes

Photo courtesy of iStock