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The History of Pasta
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The History of Pasta

Written by Sarah Ubertaccio, founder of q.b. Cucina, an online shop that specializes in pasta tools and artisanal Italian kitchenware.

The history of pasta is a tale that spans millennia and traverses continents, blending cultures, cuisines, and traditions. While the exact origins of pasta remain debated, its journey through history is rich and fascinating.

Although many of us today enjoy dry pasta that comes in a bag or box, pasta certainly didn’t start out this way. In fact, the earliest known pasta was made fresh. Evidence suggests that ancient civilizations in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and China were making forms of pasta-like dishes from grains and water, which were then dried for preservation. A few centuries later, the ancient Romans, particularly the upper class, enjoyed a type of pasta called "laganum" (a word that is thought to have influenced what we now know as “lasagne”). This pasta was made from wheat flour and water, cut into strips, and then cooked. It was often flavored with various spices, herbs, and sauces.

The Arab conquest of Sicily and southern Italy in the 7th century brought new ingredients and cooking techniques to the region, including pasta-making. Arabs introduced dried pasta to the Mediterranean region, which became a staple food due to its long shelf life and versatility.

During the Middle Ages, between the 12th-15th century, pasta production spread throughout Europe, with different regions developing their own variations. Italy, in particular, became known for its diverse pasta shapes and recipes. It’s during this period that shapes like tortellini, tagliatelle, cavatelli, spaghetti, and more came into existence and slowly grew in popularity.

The Renaissance marked a period of culinary innovation in Italy, leading to the creation of new pasta shapes and recipes. During this time, pasta gained popularity across Europe, with notable figures like Leonardo da Vinci praising its virtues and even inventing a device to cut pasta into strings.

During the 1600s, amidst an industrial revolution in Naples, a groundbreaking method emerged: mechanically extruding dough through a die. This innovation revolutionized pasta production, enabling large-scale efficiency and granting pasta an extended shelf life. European explorers brought pasta to the New World during the Age of Exploration. It quickly became a part of the culinary landscape in the Americas, particularly in regions with significant Italian immigrant populations.

Today, pasta remains an iconic and beloved dish, cherished for its versatility, simplicity, and deliciousness. Whether served with simple tomato sauce, fresh pesto, or creamy carbonara, pasta continues to bring people together around the dinner table, embodying centuries of culinary tradition and innovation.



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