About Pasta

History of Pasta

Children and parents have eaten pasta for a very, very long time.

Wheat flour was one of the first foods of our distant ancestors. To make the flour, they crushed the kernels of wheat between two rocks. Then they mixed the flour with water, and cooked it.

We know this from drawings they made on the walls of the ancient caves where they lived.

The ancestors of Italians, called Etruscans, made drawings that show them making a food from wheat that looks like pasta.

It was not very long after that the Romans made a food they called "lagana" which we now call "pasta". The Romans traveled to many countries, carrying pasta with them, and taught other peoples how to make and cook pasta.

Eight Reasons to Eat Pasta

There are lots of really good reasons for eating pasta. Here are eight simple ones showing why pasta is good food choice for children and their families.

  • Pasta is quick and easy to cook.
  • Pasta and pasta meals, are delicious
  • Pasta, and pasta meals, are nutritious and healthy.
  • Pasta is convenient and easy to store, thanks to its long shelf-life.
  • Pasta is not expensive.
  • Pasta can be served hot or cold.
  • Pasta can be served as a main dish or a side dish. It can also be served in sopus, salads, and even in desserts!
  • Pasta is also environment-friendly, thanks to its packaging that permits 100% recovery of the materials.

How to cook Pasta

  • Most of the time, pasta is cooked in boiling water. When it is done, the pasta is taken out of the water,  drained and then "dressed." Dressing pasta meals means mixing it with wonderful sauces or other foods such as tomatoes, olive oil, fish, cheese, meat, or vegetables.

    Some favorite pasta sauces are very simple (just olive oil or butter, a sprinkle of cheese, and salt and pepper). Other delicious pasta sauces are more complicated. They include meat and fish sauces, vegetable sauces (especially tomato sauces), milk and cream sauces. Also, famous chefs often invent clever and exciting dished with pasta for their restaurants!

  • Pasta is often served in soups. Sometimes it is cooked right in the soup broth, and other times it is cooked in plain water, and added to the soup when it is almost finished. Pasta soups are very popular in the Americas. People in Mexico, Central and South American enjoy pasta in many different kinds of soups and stews. North Americans eat lots of chicken, beef, or vegetable soups with pasta.

  • Pasta dishes are sometimes fried or baked.

Scientists say pasta is healthy!

Pasta made headlines around the world in October 2010 when nutrition scientists from four continents met in Rio de Janeiro, Brasil, to talk about pasta and health. Here are the important things they said about pasta and pasta meals:

  • Science says eating a balanced variety of different foods is more important for good health than worrying about any single food or ingredient.
  • Traditional ways of eating are usually healthier than today's popular foods. Pasta and pasta meals are an important part of most traditional ways of eating, all around the world.
  • Too many calories-not any one food- is why people are too fat.
  • Pasta is not expensive, and it is easy to find in stores and prepare at home.
  • Pasta and pastsa meals give our bodies a steady supply of energy-a good thing. They do not cause sugar in the blood to rise quickly.
  • Pasta meals help people to eat more vegetables, legumes, and other healthy foods.
  • Doctors, nutrition experts, and other health experts should tell their patients to eat more healthy pasta meals. Olive is used in many pasta sauces.
  • Pasta meals are enjoyed in cultural traditions worldwide, as they are versatile and easily adaptable to national/regional seasonal ingredients.

Pasta Fun Facts

There are more than different pasta shaped made around the world.

  • Thomas Jefferson, America's third President, is credited with bringing pasta to America in 1789.

  • "Al dente" is used to describe pasta when it is cooked to perfection. "Al dente" in Italian literally means "to the tooth." Pasta that is al dente should not be overly firm, nor should it be overly soft.

  • The word "pasta" comes from the Italian for paste, meaning a combination of durum wheat semoline and water.

  • Pasta existed for thousands of years before anyone ever thought to put tomato sauce on it. One reason is that tomatoes were not grown in Europe until the Spanish explorer Cortés brought them back to Europe from Mexico in 1519.

  • If Italians ate their average yearly amount of pasta in spaghetti shape (long thin pasta), they would eat enough pasta to wind around the earth 15,000 times!

  • Around the year 1000, the first documented recipe for pasta appeared in the book "De Arte Coquinmaria per Vermicelli e Maccaroni Siciliani" (The Art of Cooking Sicilian Macaroni and Vermicelli), written by Martino Corno, chef to the powerful Patriarch of Aquileia.

  • In the 19th century, the industrial revolution and modern technology caused the production of pasta to be standarized and mechanized. This allowed pasta production to spread throughout Italy and sorrounding nations, and soon afterwards to spread to the furthest corners of the globe. This madre pasta one of the world's best-known and enjoyed foods.