Italian pasta – pasta types, recipes, appearance (part 1)
The story of the appearance According to one legend, the Venetian merchant Marco Polo brought pasta to Europe from his trip to China, but historians have denied this version. Researchers believe that the history of the appearance of pasta goes far to the Neolithic. Just when people learned to grow cereals, and a little later to grind cereals into flour, the appearance of pasta became only a matter of time. The first pasta was just flour mixed with water and dried in the sun. In appearance, it, of course, was very different from the modern one. Historical excavations have confirmed that somewhere in the first century, broad noodles called lagane were made from durum wheat. From there the name of modern lasagna appeared. At that time, such noodles were not boiled, but baked in ovens. And so it went on for several centuries. Around the eighth century, during the invasion of Europe, the Arabs had a very strong influence on Italian cuisine. The dried noodles they brought to Sicily became the main ancestor of the pasta. In the original dish, a lot of oriental spices were added to the dough. Maybe that is why in Sicily there is still a tradition to add cinnamon, raisins and other spices to the pastry dough. The new product turned out to be so good for the climate of Italy that it quickly spread from the island to the mainland. The evolution of the preparation of pasta The word pasta, translated from ancient Greek, means “flour mixed with sauce”. As the name of the dish, this word began to be used somewhere in the early 14th century. At this time, the dish has already spread throughout the peninsula. By the 15th century, dry pasta became even more popular due to the possibility of long-term storage. For the same reason, pasta has become a welcome dish of travelers and sailors. And new geographical discoveries helped her spread around the world. Methods of making pasta began to improve. Now it was not only baked, but also boiled. In addition to the noodle-shaped, the paste began to acquire a wide variety of forms. An important stage in the history of the development of pasta is considered the 18th century. Until that time, pasta was the food of commoners who ate with their hands. About like pilaf in the East. Aristocrats, despite the excellent taste, could not afford to delve into the food with their hands. But everything changed when a fork was invented at the court of the Neapolitan king. A four-tooth cutlery made it possible to elegantly wind the pasta and put it into the mouth without dirtying the hands. If at the beginning of evolution the pastry dough was kneading with your feet, then by the 19th century everything had changed a lot. To increase production and reduce labor costs, the Italian engineer Cesare Spadacchini invents a mechanical machine that simulates the movement of the legs. It was a real breakthrough in pasta history. Mass production has become more convenient and hygienic. The first recipes for making pasta by our ancestors were radically different from modern times. Even after they began to boil the pasta instead of baking, they did it in milk, seasoning it with butter, sugar and cheese. Sometimes broth was used instead of milk. It was only at the beginning of the 19th century that the culinary revolution separated sweet and savory dishes, and helped pasta meet sauces. Despite the fact that tomatoes came to Europe immediately after the discovery of America, a lot of time passed before they were eaten. After all, tomatoes are a nightshade family. And the fact that nightshade is poisonous was believed until the mid-19th century. It was at this time that a culinary specialist was found who dared to add tomatoes when cooking pasta. After that, the use of tomatoes in cooking became ubiquitous, and the combination of pasta and tomato sauce became a classic. The very first pasta recipe The author of the first documented pasta recipe is Martin Korno. He was a true master in his kitchen and worked for the highly respected patriarch of the Catholic Church. The book, in which a unique recipe was published over a thousand years ago, was called The Art of Making Sicilian Pasta and Vermicelli. According to a medieval recipe, pasta should be boiled in almond milk and seasoned with sweet roots. According to statistics, the average Italian eats about 26 kg of pasta per year. Italy on this indicator easily overtakes any other country in the world. For example, the average American eats only about 7 kg of pasta per year. However, the country’s ability to grow high-quality durum wheat cannot fully satisfy the Italians’ love for this wonderful product. In this regard, Italy is forced to import additional quantities of grain for the manufacture of a national product. Currently, the Italian industry produces pasta in both dry (secca) and raw (fresco) forms. One of the problems was the ability to fully satisfy both local and global demand.