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March 2017
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…AND MAN CREATED PASTA

It has been said that, many years after the world was created, somebody, who had noticed that ‘something’ was missing, invented pasta: “Only now is the work perfectly finished”. Although this is a slight exaggeration, we are not far from the truth here because, with this expression, we are saying that the creation of pasta has been one of the best, tastiest and most beneficial things in the world. As far as the speed of the invention is concerned however, we know that is part of the story went a little differently...

It was only after a long process, that pasta triumphed and became very popular and this triumph, which started in Italy, gradually spread all over the world. Mass production of pasta began at the beginning of the 19th century and, at that time, the passion for it was so alive that macaroni were being cooked by street vendors (called maccheronai) and eaten on the streets.

In fact, this is how you can find Italians outside of Italy; by shouting the name (which is not always welcomed) macaroni! Pasta, and macaroni, was the beginning of the discovery of the Mediterranean cuisine and diet...and now its time for revenge!

But how did we get to what can only be described as the first, real explosion of Made in Italy? Even the Greeks and Romans used polentine cereals, focaccia and schiacciata breads, and these latter two were dried, toasted or roasted and then sliced and dressed with different sauces. Perhaps the shape and way these foods were eaten are clues about what pasta would be like, but centuries passed before people learnt to use less soft grains and choose flours that were more adapted for boiling in hot water.

Sicily, the birthplace of pasta
It was around the year 1,000 A.D., and thanks to the incessant mix of the Arab and Mediterranean cultures, that the modern pasta production technique was born in Europe’s granary. This was also when the preparation and integration of it in to daily life, which still exists today, began. Of course, some time was needed before pasta became an élite product of mass consumption however today, it is exactly that.

The marriage of pasta and tomato
There is a fundamental part missing to this milestone: the meeting of pasta and tomato. Tomato actually came from very far away – America – after Columbus’s journeys and it was quite marginal and unknown for some time; some German botanists even thought it was a toxic plant! In Italy it was only eaten with salads, together with cucumber, and dressed with salt, pepper and oil.
Then, in the 19th century, the crucial century for Italian cuisine, the Neapolitans had a stroke of genius and dressed spaghetti with tomato sauce. This was the turning point: tomato sauce (‘a pummarola) gave pasta the flavour and colour which conquered the world. A portion of 80g of pasta with tomato sauce can be included in all diets, even low salt ones, provided that no other carbohydrate-rich ingredients are added. A recent innovation is organic pasta.

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