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Old 08-21-2012, 04:00 PM   #1
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Luca on Italian Pasta #4 –Pasta Timeline

Do you believe Chinese invented pasta? Maybe, but I can assure you that Italian pasta was invented and then brought to perfection by people who lived in the land that we now call Italy.
I don’t want to stir any controversy. I just want to say that today we can enjoy wonderful recipes because during the last centuries, in the towns, villages and lands which now belong to Italy, obscure hosts of workers and artisans, merchants and sailors, women, children and men struggled to augment their own personal wealth and glory, or just to avoid starvation, through the handling of macaroni et similia.
So, to do some justice to them, I propose you, my friends, the following short Italian pasta timeline, which I made on the base of some well-documented events.

Italian Pasta Timeline
Let's compress more than two thousand years in a few points:
  • The bas-reliefs of the Etruscan Tomba dei rilievi (Tomb of the reliefs) in Cerveteri, 42 km from Rome, show some kitchen tools typically used to make pasta (rolling pin, pastry board, a knife and a wheel to cut dough). The tomb was built in the fourth century b.C.
  • The cook Coelius, author of the Latin cookbook De Re Coquinaria (about 230 a.D.) describes how to use lagana, a precursor of nowadays lasagna, to prepare various sorts of pies.
  • The first known evidence of dried pasta production in Italy comes from the book The Pleasure Excursion of One Who Is Eager to Traverse the Regions of the World (published about 1154). The Arab geographer Al Idrisi wrote this book for Ruggero II, King of Sicily. Here is our quote: “West of Termini there is a hamlet called Trabìa, a wonderful place with perennial waters and many mills. Trabìa has a plain and large farms, which produce such large amounts of noodles to be sufficient for the need not only of Calabrese towns, but also of many other Muslim and Christian lands, which are supplied with many loads sent by ships”. Termini is the present-day Sicilian town of Termini Imerese, near Palermo.
  • In the year 1244, a physician from the Lombard town of Bergamo suggests a somewhat harsh diet to one of his patients: “... et non debes comedare aliquo frutamine neque de carne bovina nec de sicca neque de pasta lissa nec de caulis..”. The poor man was forbidden to eat fruit, meat, cauliflower, and pasta, dried (sicca) or boiled (lissa).
  • A Vermicellari (noodlemakers) guild existed in Naples at least since 1546. Similar guilds existed also in other Italian towns, before and after that year.
  • While pasta has been produced for centuries by artisans in Italy, probably the first evidence of an Italian pasta factory comes from Venezia in 1740. In that year the local Trade Ruling Deputies authorized Paolo Adami, from Genoa, “to open a factory of fine pastas as are made in Genoa and which are not produced by our town Lasagneri”.
  • In 1891, the great Pellegrino Artusi wrote his fundamental book La scienza in cucina e l’Arte di mangiar bene (Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well), a turning point and maybe the basis of Italian modern cooking. And he obviously included many pasta recipes.
  • In the 20th century Italian pasta conquered the world, bringing happiness (and some fat bellies) quite everywhere. Today Italy is by far the main pasta producer across the globe, and Italians are by far the greatest consumer of this versatile and simple food.

So, next time someone says that Marco Polo carried pasta back from China to Italy in 1295, please remember that if Chinese probably were the first to make some sort of rice spaghetti, Italian pasta is an Italian creation, perfected along centuries in our country, thanks to the contribution of many different people, cultures and ingredients, with one single goal: to nicely feed the starving and the greedy.

References
  • Marcus Gavius Apicius, De Re Coquinaria, ca. 230 a.D. (this book has been drawn up by the cook Coelius, which attributed its content to the Roman citizen Apicius).
  • Ash-Sharīf al-Idrīsī, Kitab nuzhat al-mushtaq fi ikhtiraq al-afaq (The Pleasure Excursion of One Who Is Eager to Traverse the Regions of the World), ca. 1154 a.D.
  • Pellegrino Artusi, La scienza in cucina e l’Arte di mangiar bene, 1891.
  • Gillian Riley, The Oxford Companion to Italian Food, Oxford University Press, 2009 edition.
  • Cristina Ortolani, L'Italia della pasta, Touring Club Italiano, 2003.

My Previous Pasta Issues here on DC
Sorry friends, but I couldn't resist...
Luca’s lengthy treatise on Italian pasta – Part I
Luca’s lengthy treatise on Italian pasta – Part II
Luca on Italian Pasta #3 - Pasta Sauces

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Old 08-22-2012, 02:22 AM   #2
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Ciao Polentone Thanks for the in depth post, you could be a journalist.
I am glad you have removed the blame from the Croatian Marco Polo from Korcula.
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Old 08-22-2012, 06:02 AM   #3
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Ciao Polentone Thanks for the in depth post, you could be a journalist.
Thanks lad, "in depth" meaning boring But i just felt I had to post this thing

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Originally Posted by Bolas De Fraile View Post
I am glad you have removed the blame from the Croatian Marco Polo from Korcula.
Exactly what I meant when I wrote "thanks to the contribution of many different people, cultures".
And, yes, I'm glad I removed this shame from the Veneziano Marco Polo from Curzola
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Old 08-22-2012, 07:26 AM   #4
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Luca: Thank you for your very informative post

Buon Giorno Luca,

Your profound love of Italia, shines through your extensive research and flow of your pen ...

A sheer reading pleasure and guide on the historical gastronomic culture of Italia.

All my best for a lovely August.
Margaux Cintrano.
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Old 08-22-2012, 11:28 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Margi Cintrano View Post
Buon Giorno Luca,

Your profound love of Italia, shines through your extensive research and flow of your pen ...

A sheer reading pleasure and guide on the historical gastronomic culture of Italia.

All my best for a lovely August.
Margaux Cintrano.
Thanks Margi
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Old 08-22-2012, 11:40 AM   #6
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No Rossoneri not boring accurate.I just read on another site that Croatia is a neighbour of Greece and the share the Adriatic
My wife has just put on a simple veal ragu using our own tomatoes, 3 hours to go
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Old 08-23-2012, 10:51 AM   #7
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Not to burst your bubble, but they don't just have pictures of noodles carved into stone in China that are older than that, they have actual 4000 year old noodles.

"In 2002, archaeologists found an earthenware bowl containing the world's oldest known noodles, measured to roughly 4000 years BP (that's roughly 2000 BC) through radiocarbon dating, at the Lajia archaeological site along the Yellow River in China. The noodles were found well-preserved."

Oldest noodles unearthed in China

I honestly don't see that it makes any real difference. Just about everything any human being anywhere has ever eaten has been discovered multiple times throughout history and across the world.
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Old 08-23-2012, 12:06 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Kitchen Barbarian View Post
Not to burst your bubble, but they don't just have pictures of noodles carved into stone in China that are older than that, they have actual 4000 year old noodles.

"In 2002, archaeologists found an earthenware bowl containing the world's oldest known noodles, measured to roughly 4000 years BP (that's roughly 2000 BC) through radiocarbon dating, at the Lajia archaeological site along the Yellow River in China. The noodles were found well-preserved."

Oldest noodles unearthed in China

I honestly don't see that it makes any real difference. Just about everything any human being anywhere has ever eaten has been discovered multiple times throughout history and across the world.
Kitchen Barbarian, thank you for your clarification, even if, from what I knew, I believe they were rice noodles
But, since I firmly believe in cooking as a mean to unite Mankind, not to divide it, my post was only intended to shed some light on Italian pasta history.
I just felt the need to open it with a somehow provoking question, next time I'll choose my words with more care. It's like making a recipe, too much salt, and everything is spoiled...

And I LOVE chinese cuisine
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Old 08-24-2012, 01:57 PM   #9
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Actually (here I go splitting hairs again, LOL!) they were made from millet. I'm not sure what state the cultivation of rice was 4000 years ago!

But like I said, everything we eat has been discovered multiple times all over the world. Given the odd ways some things have to be treated before they're edible, it's a wonder how anybody figured it out to start with.

It's all good.
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Old 08-24-2012, 02:13 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kitchen Barbarian View Post
Actually (here I go splitting hairs again, LOL!) they were made from millet. I'm not sure what state the cultivation of rice was 4000 years ago!

But like I said, everything we eat has been discovered multiple times all over the world. Given the odd ways some things have to be treated before they're edible, it's a wonder how anybody figured it out to start with.

It's all good.
I love hair-splitting people!
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