So, who invented pasta then ?
The history of pasta goes way back beyond Marco Polo and starts around 10,000 years ago when man started to live in a fixed place without moving continuously. Archaeological findings of wheat farming suggests that people from the Jordan Valley were among the first to make and consume some basic form of pasta. Centuries before the birth of Christ, Greeks and Etruscans made the first “lasagna” and other types of pasta. The word “pasta” derives from the Greek word “pasth” that means “a pastry of water and flour”. And also from Greek comes the word “laganon”, that was used to indicate a large and thin paper of pasta cut in stripes.
From the 3 rd century BC onwards, the Roman Empire spread as far as the border of the world known in those times. In the meantime, the city of Rome increased its population from only 100,000 inhabitants in 264 BC to 1,500,000 in 155 AD. The main problem of course was to supply enough food since the agricultural production of the countryside surrounding Rome was not sufficient for such a huge population. And cereals were in part the solution for this problem.
Wheat was distributed monthly, free of charge to lower classes whose first problem was to stop the action of insects and parasites, using two different techniques: toasting or milling the grains. The toasted grain could be stored for some time and were milled before cooking them in boiling water, to prepare a type of polenta.
On the contrary, the transformation of wheat in grain flour was only a temporary solution. It could be infected not only by new parasites, but also by humidity and mould. To avoid this risk, people used to bake bread and focacce twice over, transforming them into a sort of biscuit, a product easy to store for some time. Or to work flour into dough, to roll out it in thin foils and let it dry in the sun. The result was "dried pasta", the first dried pasta in the history, preservable for long time (at least one year and more) and usually cooked mixing it in vegetable soups, the famous Roman pultes.
Therefore, the origins of pasta are not so glamorous and noble as we would like: pasta is a humble product, invented in poor families to prevent a basic food from deterioration and to settle a provision in fear of failing the next public distribution of cereals, due to famine in the producing areas, storms over the ships that carried them to Rome, or a more dangerous infestation in the Roman granaries.
And of course, thanks to its poor origin, pasta had no place in the pages of writers, nor in the memory of historians and poets of the imperial age.
There is no mention of pasta because when food becomes the subject of history, it is usually the food displayed on the tables of the rich and the powerful and not the food on the tables of peasants.
It is also truth that in a parallel manner, pasta consumption was developed since ancient times by the Arabs and Chinese, as a matter of fact, there is record of some sort of noodles called itriyah cooked by boiling in the Talmud. But it is undoubtedly thanks to the Romans and Italians that it became known all over the world.
It is very important to make a distinction between the two main categories of pasta: fresh pasta and dried pasta; since in the following centuries, when writers and historians will mention "pasta", it will be always fresh pasta, prepared in the kitchens of the kings and the nobles, worked into dough with eggs, cut into strips or squares, rolled up, stuffed with a rich mixture of meat, fish and vegetables: agnolotti, tortellini, ravioli...
[url="#"] From poor tables to royal kitchens in 200 years [/url]