Where’d that Noodle Come From?Blogger
Where’d that Noodle Come From?
Pasta and different types of noodles have been around for centuries and each part of the world has put their own spin on it – the way it’s made or the way it tastes. We love them all!
When we think about pasta, we almost immediately think about it coming from Italy but the history behind pasta goes a little deeper.
Although many believe that pasta was originally created by the Italians, evidence of pasta creation can be dated back to 5,000 BCE by the Chinese. Research has shown that the ways the Chinese created noodles were passed through the Mediterranean trading routes and eventually found their way to Tuscany. Another rumour is, that Marco Polo was the key transporter of the Asian noodles to Italy and the Italians found more ways to build upon what could be a promising dish.
What the Italians did however was find a different way to make the noodles. The Chinese were primarily using barley flour which has a slightly different texture and flavor to what we know today as wheat flour. What the Italians discovered was the use of durum wheat and how it grew much better in the conditions they had in the region.
Where the confusion lies when trying to figure out who was first – the Italians or the Chinese – is around the same time the Romans were harvesting a million tons of grain and drying it for pasta as the best way to preserve it long term. During this era, it was the first recorded use of macaroni and the Italians at the time used it to reference any noodle, no matter the size or shape. It was also during the medieval ages, that there was the earliest recording of Italians making dishes we know today as lasagna or ravioli. It was also common to see smaller noodles in soups, broths and different flavored mashes. But because of the cost of wheat and production, this was a seen as a wealthy man’s dinner.
As pasta moved into the 13th century, pasta and different recipes were being distributed all around Italy. There was great growth of grain in Italy at this time that allowed many merchants to generate a lot of wealth from the sale of pasta. What became tricky was there was almost too much pasta for Italy.
With the abundance of pasta being produced, Italian merchants started generating wealth from the pasta they could make and then resell what was left over. This was a great opportunity for the export of pasta to really start. Exporting to surrounding communities and eventually other European countries. After this, it wasn’t uncommon to see pasta dishes as a high-class delicacy, for the wealthy.
It wasn’t until the 19th century that pasta stepped foot on American soil. It is believed that Thomas Jefferson is the one responsible for this push to America. Following an extended stay in Paris, he had macaroni. He returned to America with two cases that didn’t last very long and he sent for more. Until he could figure out how to grow the ingredients he needed to start a pasta operation. A large group of immigrants from Naples brought large quantities of pre-made pasta as well as items they would need to get started growing wheats in America. What they didn’t know a was if the environment would allow for a successful crop.
We were in luck! The soil and the weather all combine to make the perfect conditions to yield a positive wheat crop allowing the pasta love to spread throughout America. The rest of American pasta is history!
Where it has been?
If we look back at the origin of the word ‘pasta’, it translates in Italian to ‘paste’. This refers to the combination of flour and water or egg that is used to create the dough that will eventually be rolled, sliced, or built into different types of noodles.
Americans haven’t deviated from the Italian’s traditional pasta uses – fettucine or spaghetti and meatballs – as an example. Other regions of the world were a little more creative. If we visit Germany or Hungary, they create their own pasta called spaetzle. Spaetzle is a soft egg noodle that is light and looks like a small, stringy dumpling. In Greece, they create a long yet very thin noodle that looks very similar to long grain rice. When you visit Poland, you will see noodle that are often shaped into pockets and stuff with many different things – this would be a pierogi.
If you’re a pasta lover, research your own nationality to find out what your ancestors would have made with what we know today as pasta!