While each sample cooked, women in white lab coats and latex gloves handed out small packets of noodles as they appear in the package, giving the whole affair a sterile, clinical feel when most Italians would tuck into a plate of pasta around the dinner table.
The testers ran their fingers slowly over the slender sticks, caressed them, noted the flecks of brown on the golden strands of semolina and the slight roughness of the grain in their hands. And then they answered an 11-page questionnaire asking them how the color, thickness, smell, taste and texture appealed to them. The results aren't for public consumption, Barilla said.
"For us the pasta is very important, especially for me," Gabriella Brescia said after sampling her five dishes as she packed up and headed home. "I could give up everything except pasta."
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