Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Miraculous History of Italian Pasta by Marino De Vito (as translated by Torre DeVito)
Good morning everyone, my name is Marino De Vito and I would like to discuss this wonderful Italian dish (with thanks to "Mediterranean Diet" for all their help).

We begin with a brief history of pasta. It's origin is one of the most obscure in the history of food. Its roots are as old as agriculture, because at its most basic, it is simply water mixed with milled cereal grain. You can get flour (farina in Italian, from the latin far) from many different cereal grains, although the most common is wheat. When man learned to grow grain, grind it for flour, mix it with water, and dry it in the sun to preserve it, bread and pasta were born. Pasta was probably developed in different parts of the world in parallel. There are theories that establish pasta's origin in  in China, India, the Arab world and the Mediterranean. The earliest references to pasta are from 4000 BC in China but both Arabs and Greeks also developed similar products.

Pasta refers to any food prepared with flour mixed with water, to those simple ingredients you can add salt, egg or other ingredients, forming a product that is usually cooked in boiling water. Though the flour from any cereal grain may be used for this purpose, most of Western recipes follow the Italian tradition and use wheat flour (Triticum durum); In the East other flour is more common such as buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) and rice (Oryza sativa).

There are many theories about how Italians discovered pasta. Some researchers advocate that it was dicovered by Marco Polo in the thirteenth century, who could have introduced it to Italy upon returning from one of his trips to China in 1271, but more recent research confirms that the oldest references to pasta in Italy dates back to 1152, a century before Marco Polo alleged discovery. In the chapter CLXXI "Books of Wonders of the World", Marco Polo refers to the pasta in China. For others it goes back much further, to ancient Etruscan civilizations, elaborated by the crush or crushing of various cereals and grains mixed with water, then boiled and resulting in a tasty and nutritious food. When the Greeks founded Naples they adopted a native dish that was made with a a paste of barley flour and water then dried in the sun called "makaria". In ancient Rome, there are also references of pasta, dating from the third century BC. In fact, Cicero, the Roman politician and orator, speaks of his passion for the "Laganum" Latin for "Laganas" which are long strips of pasta. At that time the Romans developed instruments, tools, procedures - machines - to prepare these noodles that we now call "Lasagna". From there,pasta has become ever more popular due to its ease of transport and storage. Meanwhile the Roman empire was expanding which encouraged the cultivation of cereals throughout the whole Mediterranean basin.

Today noodles can be found anywhere, but pasta, that's Italian!

Editors note: This article was original published in Spanish on