Today marks a special event in the culinary calendar, one that celebrates the world renowned foodstuff that has is first reference dating back to 1154 in Sicily!
That’s right, national pasta day is here and whether you are a fan of fusilli, mad for macaroni, or potty for penne, this evening is the perfect time to stretch yourself and try your hand at making a dough of your own.
Pasta’s origins are ancient. Contrary to popular belief however, Marco Polo did not discover pasta in Asia and bring it to Italy. In fact, in 1279 a.d., a will drafted by Ponzio Bastone was found bequething a storage bin of macceroni when Marco Polo was still in the Far East.
Early Romans used a very simple flour and water dough – pasta is the Italian word for dough.
Both dried and fresh pasta come in a number of shapes and varieties, with 310 specific forms known variably by over 1300 names having been documented. In Italy the names of specific pasta shapes or types often vary with locale. For example, the form cavatelli is known by 28 different names depending on region and town.
Common forms of pasta include long shapes, short shapes, tubes, flat shapes and sheets, miniature soup shapes, filled or stuffed and specialty or decorative shapes. As a category in Italian cuisine, both fresh and dried pastas are classically used in one of three kinds of prepared dishes. The most popular for of pasta dish is pasta asciutta (or pastasciutta), cooked pasta is plated and served with a complementary sauce or condiment, but to impress the unenlightened with your knowledge as a pasta connoisseur, why not try one of the rarer classifications such as pasta in brodo, in which the pasta is part of a soup-type dish. Alternatively, if a pasta bake is more suited to your tastes and skills, calling the category by its Italian name, pasta al forno – in which the pasta incorporated into a dish that is subsequently baked, will make the meal that bit fancier with very little effort!
Pasta is generally a simple dish, but comes in many varieties due to its versatility. Some pasta dishes are served as a first course in Italy because the portion sizes are small and simple. Pasta is also prepared in light lunches, such as salads or large portion sizes for dinner. It can be prepared by hand or food processor and served hot or cold. Pasta sauces vary in taste, colour and texture. When choosing which type of pasta and sauce to serve together, there is a general rule regarding compatibility. Simple sauces like pesto are ideal for long and thin strands of pasta while tomato sauce combines well with thicker pastas. Thicker and chunkier sauces have the better ability to cling onto the holes and cuts of short, tubular, twisted pastas. The extra sauce left on the plate after all of the pasta is eaten is often mopped up with a piece of bread.
All you need to make your own dough at home is a pack of large free-range eggs and around 600g of flour, so why not give it a go this evening?
If you’re trying out a bit of pasta-making with that someone special, then we’ve got a line for you to try out….