Pasta became part of the daily diet in Southern Italy for the following reasons. Firstly, a national lack of money around the 17th century caused a drastic reduction in the ability of families to buy things. Secondly, the kneading machine and press were introduced. This new mechanism allowed wider distribution and greater factory production of pasta than was possible with handmade fresh pasta. And last but not least, the economic crisis lead to the relative concentration of large farms. This created conditions favourable to the expansion of durum wheat. The basis for pasta's sale as a very cheap and readily available food for the poorest classes was thus established.
Until the 18th century, consumption of pasta was essentially confined to the poor, who adopted it principally because of its extended-storage capacity and its outstanding nutritional value, not because they found it particularly appetizing. But things started to change…
In Naples, pasta was made by mixing semolina dough by foot. The pasta maker sat on a long bench and used his feet to mix and knead the dough. The king of Naples, Ferdinando II, was not happy with this method of pasta-making and hired a famous engineer (Cesare Spadaccini) to improve the procedure. The new system consisted of adding boiling water to freshly-ground flour, and kneading by foot was replaced by a machine made of bronze that perfectly imitated the work done by man. In 1740, the city of Venice issued Paolo Adami a license to open the first pasta factory
It was Catherine Medici who introduced it to France in the 18th century. That set the ball rolling and helped turn it into the popular dish it is today. It became known all over Europe and finally reached the most important city in the world back then: London. By the 1770's the word macaroni had a special meaning in England: the word “macaroni” meant perfection and elegance. It was common practice for the English to use the slang phrase “that's macaroni” to describe anything exceptionally good.
So pasta stopped being food of the poor and became something really posh and trendy. The most refined cuisine triumphed on the tables of the rich and the nobility, plentiful with fresh stuffed pasta that, little by little, became a gastronomical habit of the wealthy classes, who not always prepared it at home, but more and more bought it in the fresh pasta shops that, mainly in Northern Italian cities, were opened by specialized craftsmen.
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