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Did Pasta Really Originate in China?

Updated on April 30, 2014

From Sophia Loren to marco Polo

The beautiful Italian actress, Sophia Loren said, “Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti.” That is enough to make me eat it. But where did pasta come from?

The Polo brothers, Niccolo and Maffeo along with Niccolo’s son, Marco traveled to China towards the end of the thirteen century. They returned to Italy with many recipes using Chinese noodles. This is a legend that claims pasta is from China. The truth is pasta can be traced back to Before Christ. The Roman emperor, Cicero, spoke of enjoying a laganas. This was a description of a type of lasagna.

Pasta is one of the world’s most accessible foods. Many countries have some form of pasta. Spaghetti can be found in Germany and Hungry. Orzo is from Greece and pierogi is from Poland. Pasta including vermicelli and spaghetti were first prepared in China at least 3000 years ago.

The beginning of Chef Boy-ar-dee

The pasta forms of spaghetti like noodles and turnip shaped ravioli were first printed in recipe books in Italy around 1353. Spaghetti pasta was first produced in Naples in 1800. The dough was kneaded by hand until 1830.

Thomas Jefferson is credited with bring pasta to the United States. While service in Italy from 1784 to 1789, he was fond of macaroni. He shipped several boxes to his home in Philadelphia. He later invented his own pasta machine. History books state Jefferson served macaroni and cheese at the President’s house in 1802.

The first pasta factory was started in Brooklyn, New York by a Frenchman, Antoine Zeraga in 1848. Bottled spaghetti and canned ravioli originated in America. An Italian chef, Hector Boiardi, was working at the Manhattan Plaza Hotel. In the 1920’s he produced meals and called his company Boy-ar-dee. This would make it easier for Americans to pronounce his name.

Industrially produce spaghetti is 25 centimeters long. That is 9.84 inches. The Italians believe pasta should never be broken. The pasta should slowly be added to the boiling water so it can soften whole.

Celebrate World Pasta Day

There are more than 600 pasta shapes worldwide. Some of the shapes help describe the names: Cannelloni means big pipes, ravioli is little turnips, spaghetti is little strings, vermicelli is little worms, lasagna is baking pot and fettuccine is ribbons.

The most popular pastas in the United States are; spaghetti, thin spaghetti, elbows, rotele, penna and lasagna. The average Italian eats 51 pounds of pasta a year. North Americans eat an average of 15 ½ pounds per year. The United States produce 4.4 billion pounds of pasta per year.

Pasta is a huge item worldwide. There is a Pasta Museum in Rome and a yearly conference to further promote this carbohydrate. The World Pasta Conference was first held in 1995. The key messages proclaimed by the conference are: “emphasize the economic feasibility, the gastronomic versatility and the nutritional value of pasta.” World Pasta Day is celebrated on October 25th. . October is also National Pasta Month.

“One has to be an idiot to speak badly of macaroni.” - Italian proverb


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    • mecheshier profile image

      mecheshier 3 years ago

      Had fettuccini last night :-)

    • Dianemae profile image

      Dianemae 3 years ago

      Thank you very much for reading and for your comment. Enjoyed some pasta for my lunch good!

    • mecheshier profile image

      mecheshier 3 years ago

      Fabulous post! I have always found it quite fascinating that pasta originated in China. So they say. :-) I Love pasta... Thanks for the great Hub. Voted up, and up!