A tasty and delicious history of pasta
As we journey through different centuries, cultures, and culinary traditions, we can observe that while many foods change, progress, and improve. There are certain phenomena in the world of cuisine that survive in their almost unchanged form and remain just as loved and irreplaceable as they were on the day they were first created. One such enduring culinary delight is pasta! Today, we invite you on a delicious historical journey to discover intriguing facts about pasta and explore what makes it so loved around the world.
The earliest evidence of this wonderful dish dates back to ancient times, spanning regions in both Europe and Asia. Dough was crafted from rice or wheat flour, which, after extensive kneading, was shaped into long, thin strands. This resulting pasta was either consumed immediately or dried for long-term storage.
During the eighth and ninth centuries, a surge in trade between Europe, Africa, and Asia occurred. Ships arriving in Sicily brought an array of exotic goods, yet none captured the hearts of Sicilians quite like the pasta that merchants brought along to sustain themselves during lengthy sea voyages. This marked the beginning of “love at first bite,” and pasta-making recipes swiftly spread throughout Italy.
In the Middle Ages, pasta was typically made from durum wheat and water, with spices such as salt, sugar, cinnamon, or raisins added. It was primarily enjoyed fresh and required over half an hour to cook. This simple dish found favor with people from all social classes, as its uncomplicated preparation made it accessible to everyone. The dough was cut into oblong strips, which people of all backgrounds relished, often eating with their hands.
Over time, pasta began to take on various shapes and fillings, leading to the approximately 300 pasta types we have in Italy today. Some of the most famous include spaghetti, vermicelli, ziti, macaroni, conchiglie, lasagna, penne, ravioli, tagliatelle, tortellini, and many others. After centuries of meticulous hand mixing of the dough, pasta production expanded with the introduction of the first presses.
Following the 17th century, with the increased exchange of ideas and ingredients due to frequent travel between European countries, the passion for pasta spread throughout the continent. It wasn’t until 1906 that a pasta-making machine was patented in America, a device that now graces nearly every Italian household.