BlogWhere Did Pasta Come From? - Jun 13, 06:17 pm
When people hear “Italian food”, they usually conjure up an image of a nice hearty bowl of pasta with tomato sauce. Pasta is the staple food of Italy, so one would think that some Italian guy or woman invented pasta by mixing flour, eggs, salt, and water out of sheer boredom. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. Italy didn’t invent pasta. Guess which country did?
China. Yes, you read that right. As far as historians know, pasta originated in the Shang dynasty in China around 1700 – 1100 B.C. When the Roman Empire started trading with China, the rotary grindstone made its first appearance in the land of the dragon. Chinese merchants and nomads carried the grindstone from oasis to oasis, and soon enough, people all over the country adopted the new tool and started grinding wheat into flour instead of cooking it. They mixed the flour with water to make dough, which they shaped and then steamed or boiled. Using this technique, they made noodles and dumplings, which they called ping. Their ping was equivalent to what we know today as pasta.
The ancient Greek civilization was also known to have made pasta way before the Italians got a whiff of it. Historians aren’t entirely sure on whether they brought the recipe from China, or if they happened to figure it out on their own. The first known reference to pasta in Greece dates back to 1000 B.C. Rather than ping, they called it laganon (that’s where we got the word “lasagna”!) In the 8th century B.C., some Greek settlers immigrated to Italy and brought the recipe with them. When it came to Italians and pasta, it was love at first sight.
Pasta really took off in Italy during the Renaissance period. Even then, it was consumed only as a luxury meal or even a dessert. That’s quite a huge contrast to today’s perception of pasta – which is now a godsend among poor college students because it’s so cheap! In later centuries, pasta became more widespread and, due to high demand, eventually became available in dried form and was sold in shops. By the 19th century, practically everybody and their mother knew what pasta was.
Even though Italians didn’t invent pasta, they developed an entire cuisine around it and adopted it as their own. It’s safe to say that no one appreciates pasta more than Italians do! About 20% of Italian restaurants in America make their own pasta, and we’re proud to say that Frantoio is one of them!