In a world full of major horrors and minor inconveniences, you have to get your kicks however you can, which for me means picking out the weirdest pastas at the grocery store. It’s been years since I brought home a box of spaghetti, fusilli, or (god forbid) penne. Instead, my pantry is filled with mohawks, landline cords, and fat little pumpkins.
To eat pasta is delightful, but to eat a wacky shape of pasta—to observe how it plays with the sauce, and how easy or hard it is to corral onto a fork—is escapism. Who thought to make pasta that looks like a tennis racket? I think to myself, momentarily forgetting about climate change and the dirty laundry. I’m so glad they did.
I brought Loi’s “macaroni” home during an early COVID grocery store excursion; needless to say there were things I was interested in eating pasta to ignore. I put macaroni in quotes because I, an American, have been trained to hear that word and imagine a small, bent, tubular shape, often described as an elbow and called for in mac and cheese. Loi’s macaroni could not be more different. Sold in a long box, the pasta is tubular and massive, like bucatini on steroids. I struggle to express exactly how big this pasta is. Dry it looks large; cooked it looks silly. I was instantly smitten.
It is so much fun to eat Loi’s macaroni. Like a willful toddler, it doesn’t always want to go where you’d like it to, flopping this way and that under its own significant weight. Slurping it requires some real face muscles. The chew is delightful, with more rigatoni heft than spaghetti stringiness. Just a few noodles fill an entire bowl.
I love it in a tomato sauce, in a carbonara, in a noodle soup for XXL flair. And I love it where it was created to be, at the base of a pastitsio, Greece’s cheesy, layered pasta bake. Arranged in all the same direction, Loi’s macaroni slices into graphic tubes that add bulk and whimsy to the dish that basic bucatini (an oft-suggested and more readily available alternative) cannot muster. It is, plain and simple, a really good time.
Curiously, Loi believes its macaroni is destined for more than just dinner. The company’s website reads, “Perhaps the most useful way to use Loi Pasta Macaroni is as an eco-friendly straw; long-lasting in assorted beverage products, no additional waste, and biodegradable—good for you, and for the environment!” I have tried this and can confirm it works, which is mostly a funny bit. My feeling is that the most environmentally friendly straw is no straw at all. But it’s nice to know that my pasta is thinking about the earth—because with something as wacky as Loi’s macaroni in my bowl, I have briefly, blissfully, forgotten all about it.