When we discuss pasta, we most likely think of Italy as its place of origin. Most historians
disagree and give credit to the east for inventing the earliest form of this much loved food.
It was around 1700 B.C. when the Chinese came up with a noodle made from rice flour.
That doesn't’ mean that the Italians were not major players in the evolution of pasta as we
know it today.
Around 400 B.C., the Etruscans, who lived in an area in the western part of Italy, made a
noodle similar to lasagna. This noodle was made from spelt, a grain from which wheat has
evolved. Much later the Romans are credited with making a noodle similar to the one
made by the Etruscans, out of flour and water. These noodles, like the earlier versions by
the Chinese, were prepared by baking them in an brick oven.
Boiled noodles came later and the Italians won’t get credit for that either. We all can thank
the Arab traders who would bring dried noodles along with them on their extremely long
trips to the Orient. They realized that dried pasta along with a little boiling water was a
quick, hot and easy meal to carry. The Arabs brought this food with them to Sicily during
their 8th century invasions of the island. Before too long the Italian city of Palermo was
producing huge quantities of dried pasta. So we can give Italians the credit for mass
Naples gets the credit for the invention of techniques that allowed dried pasta to be
produced in mass quantities in 1600’s. This pasta, which could last long time, is credited
with bringing Naples out of an economic depression. Pasta was often sold by street
vendors and was eaten with their bare hands was eaten either plain or sprinkled with
The first written record of a tomato sauce recipe was in 1839. Soon pasta was becoming
popular all over the country of Italy, and pastas of various shapes were being introduced.
Still, even with its popularity, pasta was being made by small family businesses.
Spaghetti, macaroni and vermicelli were being handmade by those specially trained in the
art of pasta making. The Agnese family changed all of that in 1824 when they opened the
very first pasta factory in Northern Italy. It’s easy to see why Italians get the credit for this
favorite food, and in the United States a wave of Italian immigration would help the cement
the idea that pasta was an Italian food. Even though Thomas Jefferson had brought pasta
to America as early as the late 1700’s, the food did not become widely popular in this
country until 1880-1900 when large numbers of Italian immigrants came to America,
bringing their pasta with them.
During the depression, the inexpensive and filling dish became a staple in many
households. Today, pasta is as popular as ever. From sidewalk cafés to the fanciest of
gourmet restaurants, you are sure to find a few pasta dishes on the menu. Whether you
choose to thank the Italians for this delicious food or their eastern neighbors, we can all
agree that our dinner tables would not be the same without this fantastic food of infinite