History of Pasta
"Pasta" is the Italian word for "paste." All pasta is made from a dough of grain flour mixed with
water. There are many different shapes and sizes of pasta. While most are made from wheat, other grains can also be
used on their own or combined with wheat. The climate in Italy is perfect for growing Durum wheat which is
used to produce semolina. Soft wheat is used to produce fresh pasta and semolina is used to make dried
pasta. Similar to pizza, pasta too is Italian but its origin is not that clear as there are
many myths and stories to it.
Arabs & Pasta
It is believed that pasta was introduced during the Arab conquests
of Sicily, carried in as a dry staple. Some historians think the Sicilian
word "maccaruni" which translates as "made into a dough by force" is the origin of our word, macaroni. Anyone who
has kneaded durum wheat knows that force is necessary. In the ancient methods of making pasta, force meant kneading
the dough with the feet, often a process that took a full day.
Marco Polo & Pasta
There have always been a misconception that Marco Polo brought pasta back to Italy from China.
Marco Polo returned from his travels in 1295. In 1279, however, a Genovese
soldier listed in the inventory of his estate a basket of dried pasta. Marco Polo describes a starchy product made from breadfruit, but in actual fact pasta was
made from durum wheat at that time.
Old Pasta Meets New Pasta
Tomato sauce for pasta first appeared in the early 1800s. Before the sauce appeared, pasta was
cooked over charcoal fire and was eaten on the spot with bare hands. The
pasta was sold with no dressing, or with merely a bit of grated sheep cheese. When tomato sauce was
introduced to pasta, Many believe that the liquid sauce demanded the use of
a fork, and the manners of the common man were changed. A simple noodle shaped the history of manners as well
as the history of food.