Friday, 23rd April 2021
Food & Drink Article

This Month's Magazine

Spaghetti do not come from China

There is a difference between spaghetti and noodles.

It may just be my opinion due to my upbringing, but there is nothing more satisfying and pleasing to the stomach or the palate than a good plate of Spaghetti.

Forget Marco Polo, that is an amusing story, the truth is that he did not bring the idea of noodles to Italy. By the time Marco Polo made his trips to China, at the end of  the 13th century, pasta was already very popular in Italy. As a matter of fact there is a belief that it was the arrival of some Arabs in Italy who made this delicious  introduction when showing their technique of drying pasta to preserve it as food during their long journeys. This type of early Arab pasta can even be found in ancient Greece.

While the Chinese have been and still are using noodles for thousands of years, even before Italian pasta, it took the Italian creativity and good taste to move on from  water and flour. The other main difference is that Chinese noodles are traditionally made with rice flour while Italians use their naturally grown Durum wheat that sets the pasta well apart from the rest. Pasta demands a condiment even if only olive oil and garlic and this is where all sorts of different ideas and condiments came to be, many  influenced by the local produce within the individual regions.

Spaghetti alla Napoletana, Spaghettri Bolognese, Spaghetti al pesto and so on and on, until it was found that the shape of pasta had a lot to do with improving the taste even further.


LASAGNE is one of the earliest known pasta shapes dating back to Roman times and even ancient Greek times, however the condiments was quite different then  because tomatoes were not yet in Europe until the 16th century.

SPAGHETTI is of course the most famous shape of Italian pasta, its origin is traceable to Sicily round about the 1100s. It became the staple diet for Italian immigrant  to America that increased their popularity tenfold.

VERMICELLI meaning little worms, is a long thin pasta. They can be soaked in hot water, instead of. boiled, and then used in stir-fries or other noodle type dishes.

TORTELLINI the origin of these is somewhat obscure and lost in legend although both Bologna and Modena claim to be the authors.

PENNE was invented by Giovanni Battista in 1865, an Italian pasta maker, when he made a machine that cut the pasta at an angle.

MACCHERONI (derived from the  word macaria) supposedly introduced to Italy by Greeks when they established a colony in Naples.

The list is of varieties is just as endless as the that of the different sauces, and different ways of preparing them.  Outside Italy we are only familiar with just a few varieties on display at the supermarket, but if you were to walk into a grocery store in Italy you would literally be confused with the variety on offer, bucatini, fidellini,  fettuccine, pappardelle, fusilli, cavatappi, and….

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