A TikTok recipe for a honeycomb pasta cake with string cheese and rigatoni is dividing the internet.
Some people have described it as cursed. Others have called that criticism elitist.
Similar dishes have been posted online for years.
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Move over baked feta, there’s a new TikTok pasta recipe living rent-free in people’s heads.
It’s what TikTok user Anna Rothfuss (@bananalovesyoutoo) referred to as the “honeycomb pasta”: a springform cake tin that you might typically see used for a cheesecake filled instead with tubular pasta which is stuffed with string cheese, covered with tomato sauce, topped with unspecified ground “meat” (optional), and finished with a layer of grated cheese and baked in the oven. What emerges is a lasagna-esque sliceable pasta cake, which Rothfuss tells viewers is “so good”.
Since she posted the video last week, it has been viewed 11 million times on TikTok, with almost a million likes and close to 20,000 comments, which run the gamut from outrage on behalf of Italian cuisine (“tell me you’re from the US without telling me you’re from the US,” wrote @tessatvedt) to alternative versions (@thatoldbetch suggested spinach and ricotta in place of string cheese).
The recipe attracted a fair amount of criticism
Many said that the recipe at its heart is not all that different from lasagna (the individual components are largely similar, excluding the bechamel). Others compared it to manicotti and cannelloni, both established pasta dishes which involve filling a noodle tube with a meat or vegetarian mixture, then adding sauce and baking, although they are typically laid horizontally. String cheese and Prego tomato sauce straight from the jar are notably absent from more traditional recipes though.
By this week, the TikTok video had made its way onto Twitter, where it was reposted by a detractor who had two choice words for the recipe: “Absolutely cursed.” Since it was tweeted on Friday April 2, it has been viewed 1.7 million times. The post has almost as many combined replies and quote-tweets as it does likes and retweets, suggesting that it provoked some strong reactions.
The response on Twitter largely echoed the TikTok comments, with many people saying that it’s essentially “just a pasta casserole.” Some found that criticism of the dish to be “elitist and snobby,” and highlighted that just because a food item that is accessible to people with lower incomes, it shouldn’t be seen as “cursed.”
Some Twitter users echoed the lasagna comparison, as well as suggesting it was a similar concept to baked ziti, an American-Italian dish that also uses tubular pasta, covered with tomato sauce, topped with cheese, and cooked in the oven. The original Twitter poster, who goes by the username @WilhelmDerErste, responded to the comments saying, “Everyone calling this basically Lasagna proves that they have never actually had Lasagna alla Bolognese.”
Similar dishes have been posted online before
While Rothfuss’s version is the one that’s been gaining attention recently, it’s not the first time the dish has been posted on social media. In February, Miami-based lifestyle and food Instagram content creator Valentina Mussi, who has more than 540,000 followers on the platform, posted a video of a similar recipe using fresh mozzarella as opposed to string cheese, and homemade ragu in place of jarred tomato sauce and a separate meat layer. In the caption, she explained it was a re-filmed version of her first Instagram recipe. An earlier version of the recipe was posted on her page in April 2020.
In stark contrast to the TikTok version, responses to Mussi’s recent Instagram version are overwhelmingly positive, and the post has over 340,000 likes. While Instagram is known for its aspirational and aesthetically pleasing food content, TikTok recipes for everything from a cup of ‘British tea’ to steak cooked in a toaster have been frequently ridiculed across the internet.
But the origins of the honeycomb pasta cake date back even further. A YouTube video from BuzzFeed’s Tasty entitled “Cheesy Rigatoni Pie” was uploaded on March 14, 2017. It has a lot of similarities to the versions which have surfaced recently, featuring vertical rigatoni covered in a tomato and meat sauce, topped with cheese and baked in a springform cake tin. The video has been viewed almost 620,000 times and has over 300 comments, which are overwhelmingly positive. It also has a like-to-dislike ratio which suggests it was well received, with 12,000 clicking the thumbs up icon and only 226 disliking it.
Rothfuss does not appear to have commented on the recipe’s virality, but she followed up with a similar video featuring a recipe that involved cutting into a loaf of bread and stuffing it with mozzarella sticks, topping with pepperoni, tomato sauce, and grated cheese and baking in the oven. Her caption said, “This pizza is the real deal!” Another TikTok posted to her page shows how to cook bacon and eggs in a waffle iron.
Insider has reached out to Rothfuss for comment but has yet to hear back.
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