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Bumbola pasta is a thick, hearty pasta shape which is designed to hold heavy sauces. The pasta is named for the bumblebee, since the shape is vaguely reminiscent of bees, and it is sometimes seen labeled as “bumblebee pasta.” Although the pasta shape can sometimes be difficult to find, as it is a little out of the ordinary, it is well worth tracking down, especially for cooks who want a strong shape to pair with a powerful sauce. Bumbola pasta can also be made at home, with some practice.
To make bumbola pasta, a tube of pasta dough is formed with flanges at periodic intervals, and then cut in half. The result is a semi-cylindrical piece of pasta with two small ridges on the outer, curved side. From this side, bumbola pasta does look like a bee, with the flanges bordering the body section in the middle and the wings jutting out from either side of the flanges. One might view bumbola pasta as a twist on the simple pasta shell, making it a fun and novel addition to the dinner table.
Two things make bumbola pasta well suited to heavy sauces. The first is the open shape, which can hold lots of sauce. The other is the ridges on the other side, which also help to hold sauce. When tossed with a sauce, bumbola pasta will hold the sauce well on both sides, leading to an even distribution throughout the dish. When sauce is poured over the pasta, it will help catch the sauce, ensuring that it does not all end up at the bottom of the dish.
Because the open pasta is such a strong vehicle for sauce, many people consider it an excellent meat pasta, as the scooped shape can hold chunks of meat in addition to sauce. Bumbola pasta can also be used with more delicate sauces, of course, and a flavored bumbola paired with a delicate sauce can be quite delightful. Rich cream sauces can sometimes be a bit overwhelming on bumbola pasta, however, as the shape will hold a large pocket of sauce, which can feel heavy in the mouth.
Both fresh and dried bumbola pasta are available. Fresh bumbola pasta can be made at home, although the assistance of a pasta mold is highly recommended. Dried forms of the pasta are often made by boutique pasta companies which focus on celebrating the culinary heritage of Italy, often using antique pasta molds and recipes.