Do you like Spaghetti?
Well today is National Spaghetti Day and besides giving you a family recipe, I thought I'd give you a little history of one of my family's favorite foods. Made from any of several varieties of durum wheat that thrive in dry climates, spaghetti, ( pasta,) has become one of the world's most popular foods.
For many, many years we have been told that it was Marco Polo who introduced spaghetti to Venice, Italy. He supposedly brought it from one of his voyages to the far east in the late 13th century. The spaghetti Polo encountered in the far east, was more than likely made from either rice flour or hard wheat flour (long noodles made from both grains exist in eastern cookery.)
But the big question on the minds of many has always been, wasn't spaghetti really invented in Sicily?
First, it's important to remember that at the same time, but in different parts of the planet, more than one culture at the same time could have been experimenting with food. So to attribute any one common food, such as noodles, to certain peoples and places exclusively, is probably unfair. As already mentioned, the spaghetti Marco Polo found in the far east was made from either rice flour or hard wheat flour. And the historical references to the variety of durum wheat known in Sicily during the middle ages, had been introduced to the region by Arabs, and was like lemons and oranges.
During the Middle Ages, a court chronicler and geographer named Abu Abdullah Mohammed al Edrisi completed a detailed geographical survey of Sicily. (The original book still exists in manuscript form.) Titled "The Book of Roger", it is considered one of the most important scientific works of the Middle Ages. And here's the important part.
One of the observations in the book, mentions that the inhabitants if a Sicilian town called Trabia, made a form of pasta from hard wheat, and that this product, shaped into long strands, was manufactured in large quantity for export to other regions. This may represent what could have been the earliest production of spaghetti even though in Italian it was called "vermicelli."
I'll add one of grandma's favorite recipes for Spaghetti Bolognese shortly.