Pasta – Old To New
Where you place the beginings of pasta depends a great deal on how you specify it. There is narrate that the ancient Etruscans prepared a wheat and egg glue, but it was baked not poached. Does that count? There are artifacts from a period 3,000 years ago that look remarkably like pasta dies and extruders. But naturally the material they worked on is not preserved.
sure the ancient Greeks had some form of flat dough that resembles lasagna. The knowledge to mix wheat and egg with water was known long before. But the result was roasted on hot stones. Whether this should be known as ‘baking’ is a matter of semantics. The Romans quickly followed suit in the 1st century AD with a layered dish comprised of ‘lagana’ and meat or fish.
By the 5th century AD, cooking noodles was commonplace, as is known by references from the Talmud. This record of pasta-like preparation in Arab lands provides a footing for the claim that the practice spread to Italy from Arabia. With the incursion of Arabs into Sicily, they would beyond any doubt have brought a food that could travel well. A flour-based output in the shape of string section was produced in Palermo at the time that might fit the bill.
While for a time it was thought that Marco Polo returned from China in 1295 with pasta, there are Italian recipe books from 20 years ahead containing references to pasta dishes. even, it is certain that he did encounter pasta on his travels. Since China is an ancient civilization, with a complex culture dating back 5,000 years, it’s in all likelihood that pasta existed in China very early.
nonetheless, pasta did become more popular during the 14th century and spread to the ‘New World’ as Italian and Spanish explorers sailed the seas to new lands. In the ‘Old World’ it continued to spread, with tubes of pasta in use at 15th century Italian monasteries. By the 17th century, it was a common food throughout the region.
In the New World, pasta grew in popularity through the 18th century. By its end, it graced the room of Thomas Jefferson and commoner likewise. When the American Ambassador returned from France in 1789 he brought with him a maccaroni maker that he used to delight friends.
Macaroni and cheese was enjoyed by many during the period of the Civil war in the mid-19th century (1859-1864), owing to its ease of storage and cooking, along with the cheering taste.
But it was with the large Italian immigration roughly the turn of the century that pasta really took off in America. Spaghetti, lasagna and a great many other forms became widespread as a result. With the ubiquitous ingestion of pre-made dried macaroni and cheese during WWII, the dish became a staple of the American diet for decades after.
But whatever its true origins, and subsequent history, one thing is sure. Pasta is here to stay.
Pasta – An Ancient Food, Still Modern
One of the most remarkable things about pasta isn’t just how long it’s been around. It’s that, plus the fact that it has changed so little over the hundreds, or perhaps thousands of years that it has been made and consumed. While the ancient Greeks and Romans undoubtedly made and prepared pasta differently than is done now, dishes made during the Renaissance would be easily recognizable today.
Any food which can satisfy and continue comparatively unchanged for 500 years surely has some remarkable properties. Made from simple ingredients – wheat and eggs – and processed in a simple way – just staple mixing – are just two reasons, but fundamental ones. good for you(p), appetizing and easy to prepare by simple stewing or baking are other attributes that are equally important.
The many shapes and sizes of pasta aren’t just a modern selling gimmick, either. They serve a good purpose. Providing lots of surface area on this starchy food allows sauces to cling well. Coming in a variety of useful shapes means the power to stuff, layer or otherwise offering versatility in recipe invention.
Pasta, almost exclusively among foods, goes well with a huge variety of other ingredients. Everything from bacon and steak to asparagus and peas can be part of a great pasta recipe. The range of well-matched sauces, from simple marinara to a fine clam, is unique in other foods. And, how many foods can serve superlatively in such a wide mixed bag of recipes both cold and hot?
Pasta is a very healthy food, too. Despite its report, pasta is a low-calorie, heart-beneficial dish. With only 200 calories per cup (two servings) and a gram of fat, it is perfect even for those on a rigorous diet.
As a complex carbohydrate, it is digested slowly, leading to an even and gradual production of blood sugar. As a food high in fibre, there is evidence that it is helpful in forestalling intestinal and other cancers. Often fortified with folates and naturally jammed with necessary? minerals, it is heart-healthy, as well.
It’s easy to prepare, easy to cook and makes for a great creation on the table. There’s a good reason so many Italian restaurants continue to do good business. But it’s equally welcomed at home where it can cheaply feed a family of five or a society of fifty.
But one thing about pasta has changed dramatically over the centuries. There are today more helpful tools and machines to create and prepare pasta than ever before. The variety and utility of rollers, cutters, bowls and other tools is greater than ever. Materials science and ergonomic designs have made these things stronger, healthier and less expensive. Pasta making machines are cheaper, more authentic and come with a larger assortment of useful attachments than they did even as latterly as twenty years ago.
So when you think of pasta, you don’t need to think of a ‘food you really shouldn’t eat’ or one that is just mundane. It’s healthy, can be prepared in a blinding array of tasty dishes, and is just plain great.