History of pasta
When was the first pasta made?
You think that Marco Polo brought pasta to Europe from his expeditions to the Far East? Find out the real story!
Pasta’s origin seems to go back to the Etruscan period. Research shows that even the Greeks knew its taste. Even though pasta did not wait for Marco Polo to reach the Europeans, his contribution to the distribution and promotion of this dish was undoubtedly pivotal.
Pasta reached France thanks to Catherine de Medicis, wife of King Henri II of France. From that time, pasta made an entry into Central Europe and Germany.
Different pasta shapes and recipes started emerging from the 19th century, but pasta was revolutionised in the 20th century when the use of machines improved the production process.
When you say Pasta, say PANZANI!
Pasta was known even in ancient times. Some Etruscan graves recently discovered in Italy illustrate the different stages of making pasta! Archaeologists have also found a number of utensils necessary for preparing pasta in some graves.
The geographer Al Idrisi noted way back in 1150 in medieval times that the caravans crossing the Arab Empire used to live on dried pasta.
Though pasta was already known to Europe before Marco Polo, the adventurer’s return to the continent gave a boost to the rising popularity of this dish, particularly after his book, il Milione (a book on the wonders of the world), was released. The Europeans simply wanted to imitate their Far Eastern neighbours.
Pasta’s popularity in Europe increased after the Renaissance. Catherine de’ Medici was the clever promoter who introduced pasta to France at the time of her marriage to King Henry II. In this way, pasta was reserved exclusively to the aristocracy for a long time.
All the shapes and flavours available today were not yet known in the 19th century. In Europe, pasta’s repertoire was limited mainly to macaroni and noodles used in soups. Though the drying procedure was already known, pasta was mainly eaten fresh.
With the introduction of machines in the 20th century, production went up while prices went down. New shapes and tastes were invented to bring more variety to the preparations. Today you have a large variety of pasta: The classic pasta like spaghetti, the original shapes like penne and farfalle, soup pasta, vegetable pasta, pasta for stuffing, Express…