There are two types: fresh, which is made with flour and egg, or dry, which is made with flour and water. Dry is best for everyday. It is available in either commercial or artisan varieties.
Only buy fresh where it's made well. Of the dried pastas, the brand Spinosi is best. Other top brands are Martelli or Latini. If you can find those, put away your pasta machine and rolling pin.
To cook 1 pound of pasta, you'll need 4 to 6 quarts of water. Bring water to a rip-rolling boil, add salt (without it the pasta will have no flavor), put the lid back on just long enough to bring it back to a boil, take off the lid, cook the pasta until still a bit firm or "al dente" (literally "to the teeth"). Never coat pasta with oil. It will make sauce slide right off. And don't rinse it. That will wash away the natural starch and make the noodles stick to each other.
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