History of Pasta
Pasta became the world appraising staple which rests on every restaurant menu and it is the first craving of many people when they choose to dine in a restaurant. The reason behind this worldwide culinary triumph is its complex and passionate history.
There are many assumptions and theories regarding the origin of pasta and its history. An enduring misconception is that pasta reached Italy from China and Marco Polo brought it from one of his trips. This idea rose from one of the famous passages written in Polo Travels. The story began from the passage which mentioned a kind of food like pasta that was made of a tree, sago tree, it resembles pasta but it is a kind of starchy food. Some believe that it was not a discovery but a rediscovery because pasta production started long before Polo`s trip to Italy, there is enough evidence to suggest that producing pasta is back to ancient Etruscan civilizations. Pasta production involved grinding several cereals and grains with adding water. As a result, dough was made to produce tasty and nutritious food product.
History of Italian Pasta from Greek Empire
History of pasta started when the Greeks traveled Naples, they chose a local dish with the ingredients of barley-flour pasta and water. Local people dried the pasta with the sun exposure. The dish was called “macaria”. There are also some historical references to pasta dishes in the ancient Rome around the III century before Christ. It is worth mentioning that the Roman Cicero also talked about his great interest in the “Laganum“, the “laganas”. These words referred to pasta and their shape was as wide and flat sheets. Meanwhile, the Romans used instruments and machinery to produce the pasta for lasagna. Since then, cereals have shown great qualities for transportation and storage. By the expansion of the Roman and their dominance, harvest of cereals took much attention in the whole Mediterranean region.
It is interesting to notice the history of pasta in the term macaroni. It is now referring to as a kind of long pasta, is present in the works of Roman authors of our era. In the XII century, The Vatican librarian whose name was Platina, expressed that macaroni and cheese were a tradition from Genoa and Naples, where their regular dish was popular as “macaroni and cheese “. In the XIII century, in a book titled with “The Cooking Pan” suggest that people ate lasagna as pasta strips in nutritious heavy soups.
One of the interesting points once Naples` common staple became pasta is that meat was not available or widely accessible. On the other hand, landowners of Naples or Sicily sold wheat fairly in a cheap price. Religious limitations also had a great impact on the diet, because eating meat was not allowed in their religion. But perhaps the main reason of an impressive spread was industry. it paved the way for developing machinery to produce pasta, noodles or vermicelli widely.
The reason why we call this delicious staple, pasta in history is because of its pasty texture. There are two major categories of Pasta which are fresh and dried. Both types are various in forms and ingredients. In general, pasta typically contains dough of wheat flour. Its forms are into various shapes and they are either boiled or baked. Some pasta can also be made of rice flour instead of wheat flour to have different taste and texture.
Speaking about dried pasta, we should say that it was widely consumed for its nutrition and long shelf life. It was great for long ship journeys. Pasta was a good choice around the world during journeys. With the innovation in shapes and technology pasta turned to be a great part of Italian culture. Whereas, the greatest progress in pasta was yet to come in the 19th century with adding tomatoes in pasta recipes.
Tomatoes transferred to Europe right after people found them beneficial but, it took a long time to be consumable. In fact, there was a fallacy that people believed tomatoes were poisonous. This false belief was spreading in Europe and its colonies during 19th century. Therefore, the first written official information about recipes of pasta with tomatoes was around 1839. After that, tomatoes took the lead in delicious history of Italian cuisine especially in southern of Italy.
It is good to know a fact about the amount of pasta consumption in Italy. Each person eats over sixty pounds of pasta per year more than Americans, whose amount of pasta consumption is about twenty pounds per person. Italians` passion for eating pasta needs a huge amount of pasta to be produced. But the passion is far greater than the capacity of production in the country. So importing could satisfy the needs in Italy. Nowadays, you can find pasta in every corner of nearly all cities in the world. People use dried and fresh with great varieties of shapes and tastes depending on what the recipes require. The major issue with pasta in today`s world is the production due to a huge worldwide demand.
How to make pasta
Well, it is easy to make pasta from scratch. First make the dough, and then give it a rest. After that you can roll and cut it into your favorite shape. At the end, you have three options. You can start boiling and make your favorite dish with it right away. You can keep it in the fridge or freezer. Or, finally you can let it dry in fresh air.
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Types of Pasta
As mentioned previously, there are two types of pasta in production field which are dried and fresh. They are briefly explained in this article, keep reading to know how these two types are different from each other.
Dried pasta has over 300 varieties of shapes in Italy. Surely, you should not miss the regional varieties. Shapes range from simple to the most complicated ones like tubes, bow ties and unique tennis rackets. Many of these shapes and varieties are accessible when it comes to making pasta. Italian culture says the dried pasta must be 100% from durum semolina flour and water. It is a practice that all the chefs have tried time to time. But the result they get is not so astonishing. However, there is a secret behind production of dried pasta which makes it different from all pastas in the world. In the following texts the secret reveals.
Italy has great history of its cuisine, especially delicious pasta, because of the development of technology and related machinery. It has been the top star in manufacturing pasta. Since 1900, industrialization of pasta production is due to the especial process of artificial drying. Therefore, this has led to distribution of this technology first nationally and then internationally.
After all, many countries started importing the machinery to manufacture and dry their own pasta. The main process of manufacturing pasta is the drying process. And it is paramount to greatly enhance shelf life of the finished product from months to years. In drying process, the humidity ratio goes from 32-35% to 12.5% in final dried pasta. Such deep level of dryness is not achievable by natural drying. Therefore, you can use spaces such as cupboards or rooms at controlled temperature and humidity for artificial super drying process. Then transferring the mass leads to extracting the water and at last evaporation takes place.
Evaporation and water extraction should cause no harm to elasticity of the product. If any harm occurs, pasta will crack, split, or vein.
It is great to notice the two distinguishable ways of artificial drying processes in history of pasta. They include low temperature and high temperature drying:
Low temperature drying: it is nearly a more traditional process in the history of pasta. It involves extending the times of extraction of water. This process may take 10-15 hours or more at low temperatures of 60-70°C. As a result, this drying procedure is not economically feasible for manufacturing high volumes. The reason is that it needs more time and space plus being more expensive as a final product. It is worth to mention that this procedure is common in many traditional regions in Italy.
High temperature drying: the drying process depends on the factors such as thickness, shape and the humidity of the dough. These factors make the process to take 2 to 10 hours at 60 to 120°C.
One of the good advantages of high temperature drying is that it makes the pasta to have a better performance. And also the consistency of its materials will be better even if the boiling time takes longer.
Another advantage of high temperatures is to have safe and healthy finished product at the end, from scientific microbiological aspect. High temperature has great advantages including economical feasibility as well as saving time of drying process. But by taking aside all these advantages, high temperature drying may lead to some damages and raise some risks for the finished product. For instance, we can name temperature shocks such as fracturing pasta at some points and color reactions. Such problems occur due to uncontrolled condition, e.g. too much heating during the drying process.
In order to tackle these problems, drying cycles are controllable by a pre-drying step and higher humidity. Therefore, we allow the pasta to keep its elasticity. The result is a product with a much better taste.
In the history of pasta, all pastas started with Fresh pasta and it is a bit different in ingredients from the dry pasta. The ingredients include all-purpose flour and eggs or semolina and water but the recipe can determine which to use.
Cooking fresh pasta is highly important for a household to show off their culinary art. However, it is not to say that fresh pasta in nature is better than dried varieties, the only difference is in the situations which people serve them. There are some types of pastas which people eat only fresh, others only dried and in some cases both are possible. Throughout history, serving Fresh pasta on the table of Italians was popular for generations that`s why it has especial importance and it seems they are better than the dried ones. You can add different sauces in serving fresh pasta such as cream and butter sauces and sage but tomato sauces are good for serving in summer.
Once the dough of fresh pasta became ready, it would compress into molds and come in different shapes. When the form of the dough was clear, the step of drying would begin. So the moisture would separate from the dough. dried noodles have no moisture, that`s why, they have a longer shelf life than fresh pasta. And if their package is not open, they can stay healthy for up to two years.
In addition, dry pasta is harder in appearance, while fresh pasta is softer in cooking. For this reason, dry pasta is generally more suitable for foods such as soups, meat dishes and sauces, because of their dryness. It will get a little softer and more delicious in combination with other ingredients.
Pasta shapes and names
As pasta is different in thickness, shape and names, you should decide when to use which types. Here we explain some of the variations, as follows:
it is a wide egg noodle, pappardelle delicious with meat sauces.
Also called bow tie pasta for its shape, you can enjoy a warm bowl of meat and veggies with this type.
it is common to use in many dishes, it depends on the size. Large size is good for stuffing and baking. medium size is great for casseroles with meat sauces. Small shells are good for soups and stews.
Few meals are delicious without sauce. Italian cuisine and its flavorful sauces are famous in any restaurant nowadays. Perhaps you are familiar with carbonara, puttanesca and bolognese sauces. As you know, Italian pasta sauces have a rich history as well as the whole cuisine. It is traceable in ancient Rome. More interesting fact is the variation which exists in Italian foods. Different types of sauces are also worth mentioning in this article.
Types of pasta sauces
Variation is typical in culinary art but it is highly various when it comes to Italian foods. Different sauces that we mention here is one of those typical outstanding variations. Let`s start with some of them!
It is a simple sauce that never out dates. The ingredients are simple with tomatoes, a lot of garlic, and little fresh herbs.
It is a delicious cream sauce boost with butter and Parmesan. It is easy to make it at home and you can enjoy it more with a topping of chicken.
It is a mix of fresh basil, garlic, olive oil, nuts, and cheese, very easy to make and enjoy.
Pasta is also available in various colors and models, like breads. You can choose your type of pasta like white pasta or whole wheat pasta. Even today, there are three color packs on the market that you can add to your list of choices. Many of the noodles now available in the stores are one of these three colors.
This kind of pasta contains whole wheat flour, and you can serve it with any kind of food and sauce.
This kind of pasta contains whole wheat flour and it is more popular because of its richness in terms of protein. This type of pasta has more benefits than white and is very useful for your health.
This kind of pasta is a blend of white, green and red noodles, and it can be used for all kinds of salads and baby food because of its attractive colors, it is popular.
You can use this kind of pasta with other ingredients, including spinach and tomato to make it tastier.