Discover the history of pasta and its origin

The oldest noodle dish, discovered in 2002, is Chinese: it is 4000 years old. Pasta recipes have been deciphered in a Babylonian culinary treatise dating back to 1700 BC. The Greeks, Romans and Arabs consumed pasta long before Marco Polo and his trip to China at the end of the 13th century. In his book The destimate du Monde, published in 1298, he declares that the Chinese lasagna is “as good as the ones he ate so many times in Italy”…

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The oldest pasta recipe is found in a Mesopotamian culinary treatise dating back to 1700 BC. What should not surprise since it is in Mesopotamia that began the culture of wheat around 8000 BC. ! The Mesopotamians consume risnatupasta made with wheat flour and water, grated or crumbled in a liquid boiling. Grated pasta is the oldest known form: in Italythere is a similar type of dough, the pasta grattugiata ; in Alsacewe realize the Spaetzle in this way.

Pasta of Antiquity

In Greeceat Rome and in the Near East, pasta is produced and consumed. The Greek term laganon means piece of dough cut into strips; from this word derives the laganum Quoted by Cicero. In Greco-Roman literature, the laganum generally designates a thin pastry obtained by rolling. It can be cooked in a humid environment as well as in the heat dry; them lagana poached are the ancestors of lasagna. A Roman recipe from the 4th century, proposes a superposition of lagana with different layers of a stuffing composed of chicken, pork and fishmixed with eggs and topped with a sauce made from garum (brine of fish, wine and olive oil). These “lasagnes” have the particularity of being cooked in crust like a pie.

Arabo-Persian pasta is an extension of laganum : they are cut with a knife into narrow strips, of the tagliatelle type. The rishtas and the lakshas are cooked in a spicy and fatty meat broth; these are stewed pasta, often associated with meat (beef, lamb or chicken) and legumes (Chickpeas, lentils). Historians believe that the nomadic populations of the peninsula arabic andAfrica from the north, are at the origin of the preparation of dry pasta, by inventing the calibration of pasta in small tubes. The production of dry pasta was introduced in Palermo between the 9th and 11th centuries, during the Arab occupation (Emirate of Sicily from 831 to 1091). Word spaghetti comes from the Arabic language and means thread or string. The Arabs are the first to hang the noodles on washing lines to dry them in order to keep them longer.

Chinese pasta

The China is the second homeland of pasta: the tradition of pasta made from wheat is more than 1700 years old. In 2005, Chinese researchers discovered a pot of noodles dating back 4000 years: they measured 50 cm, looked like spaghetti, were made with millet not wheat. The lamians from the city of Canton are wheat noodles prepared with a centuries-old traditional technique of stretching the dough, to make strips which are divided again and then stretched; this process is still used in northwest China.

As exchanges between the West, the Middle East and the Far East were not exceptional, crumbled dry pasta penetrated the Middle Kingdom and was described by the Chinese poet Shuxi in the 3rd century. Chinese “dumplings” were served at the table of the Ottoman sultans in the 15th century; the Chinese technique of soaking in water and molding in the hollow of the palms of the hand, are known in theOttoman Empire in the 15th century, under the name of salma. The dough sifted against a sieve, a typically Chinese technique, is reserved for pastastarch (them window); the filaments pass through the holes and fall directly into a broth which fixes their shape.

Pasta in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance

Historical sources tell us that European sailors supplied themselves with cereals but also in semolina and pasta, on the coasts of Maghreb. The technique of couscous is well attested, in western Algeria and in Morocco from the tenth century. Undoubtedly of Berber origin, couscous uses a sieve: the dough made from durum wheat semolina mixed with water, is shaped with the fingertips so that the grains clump together; it is rolled under the palms of the hand to the size of a pinhead and then steamed. Other forms of pasta are also known from Arab-Andalusian and Eastern sources, from the 13th century. In fourteenth-century Mediterranean France, there were several types of paste, including faithful (laminated pasta) and crozets (kinds of shells), which would be typically Provençal. They seem to correspond to the current Savoyard “crozets”, small square pasta that is eaten with grated cheese and butter. In the North and in the Franco-Burgundian states, various types of pasta also circulated, in particular vermicelli from Sicily from the 15th century.

Liguria specializes in the manufacture and export of pasta: in Naples, many houses start manufacturing from the Renaissance ; until the end of the 18th century, the macaroni are the emblematic dish of the Neapolitans. Catherine de Medici made this Italian specialty known in France when she married the king Henry II in 1533. Many towns on the Italian peninsula specialized in the production of pasta, which led Genoese manufacturers to decree in 1547 that real pasta must be made from durum wheat semolina, salt and water. . This rule of authenticity is always valid for the pasta secca, i.e. dry pasta. Eggs are an essential additional ingredient for the pasta frescofresh pasta.

Pasta recipes appeared in Belgium during the Renaissance and then spread during the 17th century. In Germany (including Alsace), the tradition of pasta seems to date back to the 16th century: the Holy Empire specializes in fresh egg pasta, Nudeln (in French noodles). The German term attested around 1550, was borrowed by English in 1779 and became noodle. The French term is still written knot Where nudeln around 1765, in theEncyclopedia of Diderot and d’Alembert, then “noodles” from 1767.

The legend of Marco Polo

According to the legend, Italy should Marco Polo but historians have made it very clear that he is not responsible for the introduction of pasta to the Italian peninsula. The question of the birth of the myth is difficult to resolve: the story of Marco Polo’s travels would probably have inspired an advertiser from the 1920s, designated as the real person responsible for the legend. The only reference made to pasta in Marco Polo’s testimony indicates that the Chinese use wheat to make all kinds of pasta and not bread. This text does not describe anything unknown to Italians and does not claim that the Venetian traveler brought Chinese pasta back to Italy.

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