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The Art of Eating Pasta in Italy & A Very Brief History of Pasta

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Italy is home to pizza, pasta and the best wine in the world (depending who you ask!) As such, I knew that number one on my agenda as soon as I disembarked the plane a couple of afternoons ago was eating pasta in Italy! The art of eating pasta in the boot-shaped country is a long tradition and one that was once only the preserve of the wealthy. Here’s a very brief history of pasta…

A Brief History of Pasta in Italy

Once reserved for wealthy Italian nobles, today pasta is such a staple in many of our kitchens that I have no idea how I’d make many of my favourite dishes without it! Due to its abundance across many different countries and in many different forms (literally; pasta comes in plenty of shapes and sizes!), tracing the history of the iconic dish is more than a little tricky.

Pasta is traditionally made with a mix of durum wheat dough blended with water or eggs. Its origins go back right into ancient times and throughout history. What is clear is that in the 1st Century CE, the Roman historian Horace mentions ‘lagana’ (fine sheets of fried dough). You may well recognise this word as our modern day word, ‘lasagna’.  It’s thought that the very first mention of pasta in Italy as we know it today was in 1154 in Sicily when it was referred to as ‘itriyya’:

“West of Termini there is a delightful settlement called Trabia. Its ever-flowing streams propel a number of mills. Here there are huge buildings in the countryside where they make vast quantities of itriyya which is exported everywhere”

Sadly for those in the 12th century, it’s thought that tomato sauce didn’t come about until later. The first mention of tomato sauce was in around 1790 when the sauce was mentioned in a cookbook by Francesco Leonardi. (At this point, it’s important to note that Italy didn’t exist as a unified state until much, much later. In fact, unification of Italy didn’t take place until 1861…)

The art of eating pasta in Italy and a history of pasta

A Gothic painting of pasta making, Tacuina Sanitatis (XIV century)

Eating pasta in Italy: An authentic Italian Experience

I love Italy. The sights, the smells, the sounds. Everything. From my first trip (and until this trip only!) there aged 19, I’ve declared that at some point, I will hopefully live in Italy someday! There are few joys greater when travelling in Europe than sitting in a small Italian restaurant (out of the city centre to avoid tourist prices!), switching off your phone and ordering a small glass of white wine. Watching the world go by, all the while waiting for your small plate of spaghetti al Pomodoro to arrive…

The art of eating pasta in Italy: one of the must try foodie destinations in Europe and a very brief history of pasta, as well as its origins!

About Author

Sophie Nadeau loves dogs, books, Paris, pizza, and history, though not necessarily in that order. A fan of all things France related, she runs when she's not chasing after the next sunset shot or consuming her weight in sweet food. Currently based in Paris after studies in London, she's spent most of her life living in the beautiful Devonian countryside in South West England!

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