A little spaghetti history|
Did you know that originally spaghetti was much longer than it is now?, Imagine that scene in Lady and the Tramp if the pasta had been even longer!! Shorter lengths didn’t become popular until the second half of the 20th century. Nowadays spaghetti is mostly 25–30 cm in length.
Most food historians believe that it was the Arabs who introduced spaghetti to Europe during the conquest of Sicily. Certainly, Sicily appears to have been the first place in Europe where pasta was made in long thin strands and subsequently dried. So it can be said that spaghetti is Sicilian in origin! Other types of pasta (dough made from flour and water or eggs) existed during Roman times. After the introduction of industrial methods of production, the popularity of spaghetti spread throughout Italy and eventually much of the western world.
Here in Italy supermarkets don’t have pasta sections, they have pasta aisles! What they have are spaghetti sections! Not only are there many pasta makers producing spaghetti, as well as other pasta types, but there are also a number of different thicknesses. The main rule is the lower the number, the finer the spaghetti. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean that spaghetti No 5 made by one producer is exactly the same thickness as the no 5 made by another producer! They may also not even have the same texture. The fineness and surface texture of spaghetti can vary from one producer to another depending on the method of production. The secret seems to be finding the brand you like best out of all those on offer and making your choice depending on what you are going to make with it!
In Italy, certain pasta dishes are traditionally made with a particular type of pasta. So, there are a number of pasta recipes from different parts of Italy for which Italians prefer to use spaghetti. Interestingly Bolognese sauce is not one of them! Traditionally that is made with tagliatelle. Among the most popular and well known recipes are carbonara, alle vongole (with clams), amatriciana, aglio e oli (garlic and olive oil) good old tomato sauce and puttanesca.
As a footnote, as delicious as it may be,spaghetti with meatballs is an American dish. Although, in some parts of Italy you can find pasta with meatballs, these are usually very small. Some Italians do make larger meatballs in sauce but generally they then eat pasta with the sauce from the meatballs as a starter and the meatballs separately!!
All this talk of spaghetti has put me in the mood for a nice plate of it, so I think I’m going to make a spaghetti puttanesca for dinner, the recipe for which will be here on the blog very soon.
Have a good day!