In fact, while Italians can surely be credited for making pasta the household staple it is today, countries you would never guess played a big part in its creation.
Historical Debate over the Origin of Pasta
While tales about pasta’s origins abound, the one thing historians agree on is that Marco Polo did not introduce pasta to Italy in 1729 after a trip to China. Documentation shows that pasta was already a thriving commodity traded in Cagliari, Sardinia since around 800 A.D. From other various documents dating back hundreds of years before Marco Polo’s fateful trip to Italy with rice noodles, pasta made with grains that are more traditional have been traced back to Africa and Arabic countries.
A traditional tale told in Italy speaks of a woman from a peasant background who created ravioli and lasagna, but alas, this has also been proven false by historical documents. Surprisingly, Arabic countries created stuffed pastas, a documented fact dating all the way back to the 11th century. At that time, pasta that closely resembled the homemade ravioli you enjoy today included chicken as a filling, cooked with pine nuts and served with a yogurt sauce.
Dried Pasta versus Fresh
Today, dried pasta is the most common way to extend its shelf life and with homemade pasta that is egg-based, the only way to safely store it without refrigeration. At one time however, Italians considered dried pasta to be spoiled and often, only the most poor would cook with it, putting it into soups or casserole-style dishes to stretch their food supply. Rather than being the household staple it is today for Canadians, pasta was a dish only the wealthy could afford when it made its earliest appearance in Italy.
The Arabs can be credited for teaching Sicilians to dry pasta and once they started, they became the major trader of dried pasta in the 12th century. It is for this reason that the western world attributes this favourite comfort food to Italians. Italians may not have invented pasta, but they are responsible for making it a popular product traded throughout the world that became a staple in our homes.
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