“Pasta was created to keep flour from deteriorating by preserving it. There was no other sort of flour in it, so it had to be wholemeal.
Who originally observed that a flour and water mixture preserved well and kept its form for a long time is lost to history. People tore sheets of dough with their hands and tossed them into boiling water; I believe the first pasta formed nearly immediately with flour and was similar to lasagna.
The oldest pasta dish dates back over a thousand years and is pretty simple: it’s noodles with cheese and peppers. I’m not sure how many different varieties of pasta there are now, but there are at least a hundred. Three dozen of these are the most popular and marketable.
Pasta comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, including plain and egg pasta, pasta for soups, pasta for meat or fish sauces, pasta for baking, smooth and fluted pasta, and thick and thin pasta. Every filling and sauce prefers its own type of pasta. And, in general, sauces were created first, followed by the pasta that went with them – which is why Italy has so many distinct traditional pasta recipes.
In the woodland areas, for example, there is a lot of game, therefore they use thick spaghetti that won’t get lost in the meat. Thin pasta is used more frequently in the south, where the sea is abundant in fish and shellfish, but not too thinly: the flimsiest spaghetti is used in soups and salads. Ribbed pasta keeps the filling better, while smooth pasta tastes better, so use the former if the sauce is the star of the show, and the latter if the pasta is the star of the show.
Pasta was not as diverse in the Middle Ages as it is now. The options were restricted to what could be created by hand back then. Lasagna has unquestionably been created since the dawn of time. Tagliatelle is simply lasagna cut into strips, therefore it’s likely that it was as well. As technology progressed, it became feasible to create the most complicated and odd forms, and producers began to name them accordingly. There was even colorful spaghetti, although it was just for tourists. They claim it’s their most popular pasta, yet a true Italian would never purchase it or eat it in a restaurant.
Tomato sauce is the most popular sauce in Italy. Because pasta is often a dish where you open the fridge and toss whatever you have on hand into the sauce, and everyone has tomatoes. Although, like spaghetti, they were formerly considered a luxury. It’s not a common people’s dish; in the past, only the wealthy could buy it. Pasta became a universal meal only once it was feasible to mass-produce it on a large scale.