Pasta – Test if two foods are the same


I'm Italian, now living in the US for some months.
As you may know we like pasta. I tried Barilla here, our best known pasta brand. Well.. the taste seems a little bit different to me.
It is actually produced here and not imported, so it could be different.
Looking at the Italian/US versions of the package there doesn't seem to be a big difference, except for the fact that the US version is enriched with vitamins (which shouldn't change the taste).
To dig deeper into the question and avoid any other factor (cooking water, sauce, subjectivity) I want to bring a box back to Italy and run a test with a panel (10 friends basically).

I would cook the same quantity of the same pasta shape of Barilla (ITA/USA) in the same pan (keeping them separated of course), so same water and same salt amount. Then same sauce (same quantity) for both.
Suppose A is the Italian pasta and B is the US pasta.

Now.. how should I give it to the participants? Same amount of A and B in a blind test and ask whether they are different or not? Maybe give to some participants A-A or B-B (always blind test). Or maybe give A first (which they already know, so not blind) and then give someone (blind this time) A or B again and ask which one they think it is..

Looking for suggestions. I want to be as scientific as possible.
I also contacted Barilla, who claim the pasta is exactly the same.

Best Answer

The best approach is to use a triangle test. This would be the standard used in sensory sciences. It is easy, and it will be a fun thing to do with friends. Basically, each friend (panelist) is provided with three blind samples. Two are the same, and one is different. The objective is for them to tell you which one is different. The validity is enhanced if you randomize the possible combinations across your participants. The linked site provides all the necessary information, but the practice is quite common and further detail can be found from multiple sources. I would be curious to hear the results!