By Michael Harris-Arzon, The Simplistic Professional
When I was growing up, we weren’t exposed to many different types of cuisine. By this I mean, mom primarily made American, Southern and Country dishes that she grew up on. The one exception was Pasta. Now, in the 70’s and 80’s you couldn’t find really any type of restaurant except those that focused on American Cuisine. So it wasn’t until after college and I moved to New York City that I was able to truly experience foods from different parts of the world.
As I said, the one exception was our introduction to pasta and the boot shaped land called Italy. The multitude of ways it could be used was amazing to me. One pot meals were ideal for our family. It was also a cost effective way to feed a family of seven, and so we had pasta quite often in our household.
After I had been in New York City for a few years, I started playing around with different sauces and pasta types. At first I didn’t realize that each type of pasta was shaped the way it was for a very particular reason. I thought it had something to do with the thickness and the more satisfying BITE certain noodles gave. To an extent that is partially true, but there is so much more to it.
This was also around the time that I became a kitchen nerd and would read cookbooks like others read the latest Stephen King novel. I loved the tips and bits of knowledge that were imparted here and there. Eventually I was able to piece together the actual history of pasta and it might surprise you where, when and how it came about.
The International Pasta Organization says that “Many are the theories that have been presented concerning the origin of the pasta product. Some researchers place its discovery in the XIII Century by Marco Polo, who introduced the pasta in Italy upon returning from one of his trips to China in 1271. On chapter CLXXI from the “Books of the World’s Wonders”, Marco Polo makes a reference to the pasta in China. In our opinion, the pasta dates much further back, back to ancient Etruscan civilizations, which made pasta by grinding several cereals and grains and then mixed them with water, a blend that was later on cooked producing tasty and nutritious food product.”
But anyway, back to the point of this article. When deciding on the type of pasta you are going to use, you need to consider the type and consistency of the sauce you plan to make.
‘Simple sauces like pesto are ideal for long and thin strands of pasta while tomato sauce combines well with thicker pastas. Thicker and chunkier sauces have the better ability to cling onto the holes and cuts of short, tubular, twisted pastas. The extra sauce left on the plate after all of the pasta is eaten is often mopped up with a piece of bread.’ According to Wikipedia
So the next time you make pasta, stop and put a little thought into it and you will be mightely surprised at how much better the entire meal will be.