The internet is full of fabulous facts about everything from current events to the history basket weaving. Because of this, as we research for our daily content on food trucks, food carts and street food, we stumble upon some items of knowledge that we just did not know. We have decided when these fun facts pop up, that we would share them with our readers in our section titled “Did You Know?”
For today’s Did You Know fun food facts we will look at Pasta.
The Facts: Contrary to popular belief, Marco Polo did not discover pasta. The ancient Italians made pasta much like we do today. Although Marco Polo wrote about eating Chinese pasta at the court of Kubla Khan, he probably didn’t introduce pasta to Italy. In fact, there’s evidence suggesting the Etruscans made pasta as early as 400 B.C. The evidence lies in a bas-relief carving in a cave about 30 miles north of Rome. The carving depicts instruments for making pasta – a rolling-out table, pastry wheel and flour bin. And further proof that Marco Polo didn’t “discover” pasta is found in the will of Ponzio Baestone, a Genoan soldier who requested “bariscella peina de macarone” – a small basket of macaroni. His will is dated 1279, 16 years before Marco Polo returned from China.
- The Chinese are on record as having eaten pasta as early as 5,000 B.C.
- Christopher Columbus, one of Italy’s most famous pastaphiles, was born in October, National Pasta Month.
- January 4th is National Spaghetti Day.
- October 17th is National Pasta Day.
- Legend has it that noodles were first made by 13th century German bakers who fashioned dough into symbolic shapes, such as swords, birds and stars, which were baked and served as bread.In the 13th century, the Pope set quality standards for pasta.
- Thomas Jefferson is credited with introducing macaroni to the United States. It seems that he fell in love with a certain dish he sampled in Naples, while serving as the U.S. Ambassador to France. In fact, he promptly ordered crates of “macaroni,” along with a pasta-making machine, sent back to the States.
- The first American pasta factory was opened in Brooklyn, New York, in 1848, by a Frenchman named Antoine Zerega. Mr. Zerega managed the entire operation with just one horse in his basement to power the machinery. To dry his spaghetti, he placed strands of the pasta on the roof to dry in the sunshine.
- During the 1980s, macaroni, which was traditionally considered a “blue-collar” down-home meal, was transformed into the more upscale “pasta.” As more and more people began to have fun with it and romanticize it throughout the ’60s and ’70s, its image began to change along with its name.