There is no reason to question the world’s love affair with pasta. The classic and authentic Italian food is eaten in many cultures and is considered an all-time favorite. It is convenient and versatile, with different kinds of sauces to go with it made from simple ingredients.
History of Pasta
It has been a favored family food for many years, and many often question where exactly pasta came from. In its early days, pasta is a regular food choice for the less fortunate as it is nutritious, can be boiled and eaten by itself, or simply adding cheese to add flavor is enough for a meal.
Marco Polo was the one who introduced pasta to Italy after his exploration to the East in the late 13th century. Around the 1800s, Italians paired the pasta with a tomato sauce, and its popularity has then started to spread.
But pasta can be traced back to the 4th century B.C., where an Etruscan tomb showed natives making pasta and the Chinese were already making a noodle-like food in 3000 B.C.
Pasta made its way to the western hemisphere through the English, who discovered it while on tour in Italy. Colonists are the ones who brought the English practice of cooking noodles for half an hour, then adding them with cream sauce and cheese.
In 1848, the first industrial pasta factory in America was built in Brooklyn by a Frenchman. The Frenchman was known to spread his spaghetti strands on a roof to dry the in the sun. Pasta production then expanded in the 19th century, and gradually, pasta makers began to establish their businesses and restaurants.
Today, italian pasta remains a family favorite and a dish that you can find in almost all the restaurants produced in various shapes and sizes, with wheat, veggie, and gluten-free options.
What is pasta?
Pasta is made from a dough of durum wheat flour mixed with water or eggs formed into various shapes, then cooked in boiling water. Durum wheat is hard, high-protein wheat sustainable for pasta and semolina products but not for bread and baking. When mixed with water, the flour of durum forms a stiff paste so it can be shaped, and the shape will be retained when dried and cooked.
Pasta can also be easily made at home with standard flour and eggs. The best pasta option by far is the wholemeal pasta due to its high fiber content. It is made using wholemeal flour with durum wheat to hold the shape well and add a chewy texture.
If you are wondering why pasta is slightly yellow, it has something to do with carotenes. Carotenes are antioxidants like beta-carotene and lutein, which are naturally found in wheat flour. Pasta made from durum wheat flour is expected to have a stronger color as it contains more carotenes.
Is pasta healthy or Unhealthy?
As pasta is high in carbohydrates, it might not be good for people to consume it in large amounts. As it contains gluten, it might cause problems for gluten-sensitive people. However, pasta can provide nutrients that are important for one’s health, especially if it is eaten in moderation.
If you are health conscious or cannot eat wheat or gluten, you can still eat pasta. Gluten-free pasta is made from ingredients like maize and soy flours and maize, potato, and rice starches. You can experiment with different types according to what works with your recipes.
There are about a hundred types of pasta that can be organized into different groups. Cooks use different shapes and sizes for pasta, not for aesthetics but because each shape serves a purpose.
Not all pasta types work well with all kinds of sauces, and you have to choose one that will best suit your dish. For example, thin kinds of pasta would not be ideal to use for holding thick sauces. Often, people pair flat-shaped pasta with creamy sauces and round pastas to tomato sauces as it seems to cling better to round and thick pasta.
As there are many types of pasta, it gives people the freedom to try out different recipes and discover something new.
Read this infographic made by Cirelli & Co. to learn about some of the most common pasta types and the dishes they are used for.