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What’s your pasta?

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21MAY2014

cyclist eating pastaAs the 2014 Giro d’Italia reaches its half way stage, we look at the origins of pasta – Italy’s staple food and the fuel of pro-cyclists…

Pasta first showed up on Italian plates as early as the 4th Century BC, having travelled from China’s Shang dynasty around 1700 BC in the form of flour noodles, with a stop-over in Ancient Greece in 1000 BC. There it collected the Greek term laganon, strips of dough made with flour and water known today as lasagne. On its arrival in Etruscan Italy around the 4th century BC, it was soon dish of the day throughout the regions known today as Lazio, Umbria and Tuscany.

Later, thanks to the Renaissance, pasta was transformed from a humble staple into the passionate culinary art it is today.
But if Italy can’t claim to have invented dry pasta (pasta secca), Ancient Rome was at least the birthplace of fresh pasta (pasta fresca), made by adding water to semolina flour and intended for immediate consumption.

Most pastas take their name from the Italian description of their shape. And while the Italian names for the everyday nosh may sound exotic to the non-Italian ear, here’s the meaning of some familiar pasta favourites. Enjoy!
Pasta names table

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