Pasta: who invented spaghetti?

The classic dish of spaghetti it is one of the symbols of Italian cuisine in the world. However, as often happens with the food that we find ourselves in front of almost every day at the table, we rarely ask ourselves about their origins. So, who invented spaghetti? Someone might come up with a reminiscence that sees Marco Polo and China as protagonists. The famous Venetian traveler is frequently cited as the one who discovered spaghetti in the Far East. In reality, the birth of this and other types of pasta took place well before his shipment and in areas much closer to us.

Who Invented Spaghetti?

As frequently happens when we talk about products with a long history, it is difficult to identify precise origins. The reason is that many foods have come to be as we know them today afterwards a long evolution, favored by trade and contamination between different cultures. More than “who invented spaghetti?”, the right question is then “how did the spaghetti we throw in the pot today become?”. Also, there is a matter of vocabulary: the term spaghetti arrived long after the appearance of the product, as before this thread-like dry pasta was called by other names.

Sicilian origins

The quick answer to the question “who invented spaghetti” would be “the Sicilian pasta makers during the Arab domination”. Sicily is mentioned, in fact, in the first attestation of dried pasta in Italy and the existence of the related industry. Bear the signature of Muhammad al-IdrisiArab geographer of Roger II, first king of Sicily and founder of the independent Regnum Siciliæ in the 12th century.

Reported in the Book of Roger, it speaks of Trabiaa town not far from Palermo, like an area rich in mills in which it was produced a pasta in the shape of threads modeled manually. Something other than pancake from Roman times, thin sheet of pasta, ancestor of lasagna. These threads were called itria (Arabic word derived from the Greek itrionwhich meant precisely “dry, stretched and thread-like pasta”).

The role of trade in the Mediterranean

From western Sicily they began to be exported throughout the Mediterranean. Dried pasta was in fact an easily storable product, suitable for long journeys. Towards the end of the 12th century, the ancestors of spaghetti landed at Amalfi it’s at Napoli and, in the following century, a Salerno. It is in these areas that will definitely acquire their today’s appearance and current processing and drying techniques will be perfected.

In particular a Gragnano, where the first large artisan pasta factories were born which made the town the heart of production. In the same period, dry filiform pasta began to spread in the rest of southern Italy, but also in the northern territories. Always in Campaniaduring the 19th century, took off the first mechanization in production pasta, including spaghetti.

The name “spaghetti”

Up until this point in history, however, the product was known by other names: the generic”macaroni” (or “macaroni”) or “vermicelli”, which has remained in use to indicate thicker spaghetti. He was the Neapolitan poet and playwright Antonio Viviani to use the term spaghetti for the first time in his work The macaroni of Naples, published in 1824, a mispronunciation of the word “string” in a diminutive sense. From that moment, the word entered the kitchens of Italians to remain there permanently.

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