The drying phase of producing pasta secca doesn't just preserve it. It's what gives dried pasta its irreplaceable essence—if the producer is careful. Unfortunately, not every pastificio is, says Luca Martelli, whose family makes a particularly sought-after pasta (that comes in a particularly striking yellow bag). Many industrial producers speed-dry their product in ovens heated to over 260 degrees Fahrenheit. As Martelli tells it, high-temperature drying is glossy lipstick on a pasta pig. Since starches in the dough gelatinize at high temperature, it guarantees an extremely homogeneous noodle with a predictable texture. But that comes at the cost of lost flavor and elasticity. Martelli pasta is dried in small batches for 50 hours at around 100 degrees. "The dough is dried," he says, "but it's still alive." Our informal testing bears this out. If that yellow bag wasn't enough, superior taste and texture are great reasons to spring for the good stuff.