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.
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.
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.
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:
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.