You are in ancient Rome. Of course, since you are in ancient Rome, to you it is just Rome. One of your friends at the forum regales you with a tale about the Great Pyramids of Giza, one of the engineering marvels of antiquity. As ancient as the Roman Empire is to modern times, the Great Pyramids were to Romans.
You do not know that humanity will still be around more than two thousand years in the future. You do not know what advancements will come to light in those short millennia. All you know is that at the edge of your hearing you pick up on someone asking: Which is better, linguine or fettuccine?
Fettuccine is better for alfredo-style cooking, while linguine is, obviously, better for seafood and pesto.
But what does this mean to the layman? How does one explain this difference?
The Advantages Of Linguine
The best place to start in describing the differences between the pasta is with the physical properties of linguine. Linguine’s appearance has much in common with spaghetti, though the moment you eat it you will know the difference. You see, where spaghetti is thin, linguine is noticeably thicker.
This means a couple of things: To begin with, linguine takes longer to make, if only slightly. It is harder to chew if only a little. But the most significant difference is that it is far, far more absorbent than spaghetti. This means that meat sauce and butter will disappear into it rather than sitting on top of it.
Linguine can take on a lot more flavor, but that means it also requires more flavor in order to flavor it. This is why linguine is better for pesto, which does not really get absorbed in the same way as water-based sauces such as tomato sauce.
This also explains how it complements seafood, as more people dislike the texture of seafood than the taste of it. Usually, if you can get someone to eat squid, picking a random example, you will hear about how good it tastes in the same breath of how strange it feels to be eating the creature.
Wrap a squid in linguine, however, and you will discover these complaints to disappear.
The Advantages Of Fettuccine
No one will confuse fettuccine with any other pasta on the outside. Amusingly, however, once you eat it you may find yourself wondering if you are eating linguine. This is because similar to linguine, fettuccine is an abnormally thick pasta, except, unlike linguine, it has a distinctly flat shape.
What does this shape mean for the pasta? More than you would think, even being the coinsure of Imperial Roman cuisine that you are. It means that even though the pasta is denser than linguine, it is less absorbent. However, while it is less absorbent than linguine, it is more absorbent than spaghetti.
This is what lends it to alfredo dishes. Like many components of the material world, absorbency usually follows a simple rule: Things take the path of least resistance towards absorbency.
This means that if you make an alfredo out of the usual ingredients (butter, cream, etc.) then those ingredients will be absorbed by the cheese rather than the Fettucine. Were you to try and make the same thing with linguine, then the linguine would end up absorbing all of the flavors instead.
Deciding Which To Eat
The decision between linguine and fettuccine is rather easy to make once you know the practical, physical differences between them. This is because the more you know about them, the more you realize that their differences are purely a matter of taste.
It is a bit of a paradox: The more you learn about the objective differences, the more important your own subjective preference becomes. But that is because there is no great pasta deity in the sky to hand down commandments on what makes good pasta. You really are the final word in which one is going to be dinner.
Which One Is More Healthy?
The answer to this question is less subjective than personal preference. If you want to get technical, you can easily point out that both kinds of pasta are made of the same thing: Wheat. They are both just different shapes of the same, exact food. But that is being dishonest, as everyone knows that they are not the same.
One of the very first things mentioned in this article was that linguine is better for seafood and fettuccine is better for alfredo dishes. Well, this can be taken as a good guide for which is healthier. Not only are these pasta better for those dishes, but you will also find them made in those dishes most commonly.
So, linguine can almost be viewed as the seafood pasta (which occasionally has other uses) which fettuccine is the alfredo pasta. From that point of view, you can easily determine linguine to be healthier. Basically all seafood is healthier than all alfredo meals, as alfredo meals are almost entirely made of fat.