Interesting facts about pasta

pasta

Pasta is a staple food of traditional Italian cuisine.

Some researchers place its discovery in the XIII Century by Marco Polo, who introduced the pasta in Italy upon returning from one of his trips to China in 1271. On chapter CLXXI from the “Books of the World’s Wonders”, Marco Polo makes a reference to the pasta in China.

Polo ventured to China in the time of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) and the Chinese had been consuming noodles as early as 3000 B.C. in the Qinghai province.

But it is possible that Polo’s was not a discovery, but rather a rediscovery of a product once popular in Italy among the Etruscans and the Romans.

In the 1st century AD writings of Horace, lagana were fine sheets of fried dough and were an everyday foodstuff.

An early 5th century cookbook describes a dish called lagana that consisted of layers of dough with meat stuffing, a possible ancestor of modern-day lasagna.

lasagna

However, the method of cooking these sheets of dough does not correspond to our modern definition of either a fresh or dry pasta product, which only had similar basic ingredients and perhaps the shape.

The first concrete information concerning pasta products in Italy dates from the 13th or 14th century.

The art of pasta making and the devotion to the food as a whole has evolved since pasta was first conceptualized.

Pasta and cheese casseroles have been recorded as early as the 14th century in the Italian cookbook Liber de Coquina, one of the oldest medieval cookbooks, which featured a dish of parmesan and pasta.
spaghetti with cheese

Pasta manufacturing machines were made since the 1600s across the coast of Sanremo.

In 1740, in the city of Venice, Paolo Adami, was granted the license to open the first pasta factory.

The modern word “macaroni” derives from the Sicilian term for kneading dough with energy, as early pasta making was often a laborious, day-long process. How these early dishes were served is not truly known, but many Sicilian pasta recipes still include typically middle eastern ingredients, such as raisins and cinnamon, which may be witness to original, medieval recipes.

The future American president Thomas Jefferson encountered macaroni both in Paris and in northern Italy. He drew a sketch of the pasta and wrote detailed notes on the extrusion process. In 1793, he commissioned American ambassador to Paris William Short to purchase a machine for making it.

macaroni and cheese

At the beginning of the XIX century, the most refined cooking that triumphed in the tables of the nobility was made up by pasta dishes; little by little its use became a gastronomic habit among the high classes.

Pasta is integrant part of Italy’s food history Wherever Italians immigrated they have brought their pasta along, so much so today it can be considered a staple of international cuisine.

There are more than 600 pasta shapes worldwide, but in Italian pasta names don’t sound particularly appetizing. Spaghetti means strings, vermicelli are small worms, farfalle are butterflies, orechiette small ears, linguine little tongues and ravioli little turnips.

pasta varieties

Pasta is best cooked al dente. The literal translation is “to the tooth.” Pasta should be firm yet still be tender when eaten.

While spaghetti Bolognese is one of the world’s most well-known pasta dishes, it is fundamentally inauthentic. Italian cooks would seldom serve a thick, saucy ragu with thin pasta ribbons – they’re far more likely to team such a sauce with large shells or tubes to capture the sauce, or thicker long pasta, like tagliatelle and pappardelle.

spaghetti bolognese

Generally, the larger shapes work better with thick, robust sauces, while skinny shapes, like strands of delicate vermicelli, suit light, cream sauces.

It is estimated that Italians eat over  27 kilograms (60 pounds) of pasta per person, per year, easily beating Americans, who eat about 9 kilograms (20 pounds) per person.

Pasta is very versatile, basic food that can be flavoured according to your imagination and mood. A good cook can always whip up delectable pasta with a few well-chosen ingredients.

Pasta is mostly starch because it is made of flour. It also contains other minerals and vitamins either directly from wheat or from artificial enrichment.

Whole wheat pasta contains considerable amounts of minerals such as magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, selenium and manganese. This type of pasta is known to be healthier as it contains more nutrients than white pasta.

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