Sunday, September 25, 2022

Pasta - the world’s most accessible foods

Pasta is one of the world’s most accessible foods. Nearly every country has its own unique version of this popular, inexpensive staple. The word pasta literally means ‘dough’ or ‘paste’. Pasta is a generic term used in reference to the whole range of products commonly known as spaghetti, macaroni, and noodles. Italians, who are the largest consumers of pasta products in the world, call this product ‘pasta alimentare’.

Basic pasta is made with durum wheat semolina and waters which is passed through a die to make shaped pastas or long pasta such as spaghetti. The use of durum wheat sets pasta apart from other forms of noodles. Durum wheat’s high gluten content and low moisture make it perfectly suited to pasta production.

The basic pasta dough may be flavored or colored in various ways and common flavorings include spinach, garlic and chopped herbs. There are two major classifications: pasta fresca (fresh) and pasta secca (dried). From here, there are more than 400 unique types of pasta: sheets, strips, long strands, cylinders, unique shapes, flavors, and many other local varieties.
Production and consumption of the various pasta products, which number approximately 150 in the United States, including spaghetti and macaroni; short cut products such as elbows, shells, and noodles; and such specialty products as bow ties, rigatoni, lasagna, etc. The average American consumes nearly 9 kg of pasta annually. Italians are by far the heaviest pasta consumers, with a per capita consumption of 23.5 kg, 1.4 million tons in total.

Pasta is a reference to the dough, made from a combination of flour and water or eggs and all simple components that have been around for centuries. Italy is generally regarded as the home of pasta products. They appear to have been first developed in Sicily and later in Japan. Certainly, Italy is the country which pasta products are most readily identified.

It is on record that the Chinese at pasta as early as 5,000 BC. Pasta products, as what the people know them, were first made in Italy over 800 years ago. In the fifteenth century, Italians learned how to make noodles from the Germans, who had previously learned the process in their travels to Asia.

Others argue that the Roman poet Horace was the first to write about pasta with his mention of laganum, a possible ancestor do today’s lasagna.

Some think that Marco Polo brought pasta to Italy in 1279. Pasta was slowly migrating north to Naples and reached its destination in the 17th Century. A few historical events boosted pasta to a national icon. It became a kitchen staple during the Risorgimento (Italian Unification) in the mid 1860’s.

In Germany, this product is called Nudeln, and it is still the more popular type of pasta consumed in that country.
Pasta - the world’s most accessible foods

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