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Dig into some interesting facts about pasta

Pasta has pedigree that stretches back thousands of years. It’s a delicious dietary staple beloved worldwide, and one that has been part of the Canadian diet for generations.

While it seems fairly basic, there is more to pasta than meets the eye. Here are some interesting facts that might change the way you think about pasta…

13 interesting facts about pasta

Pasta is old

Pasta is typically thought to have originated in Italy. However, evidence shows that people were eating pasta in China as early as 5000 B.C.

Legend has it that famed explorer Marco Polo was the guy to introduce noodles to Italy in the 12th century. But, it’s hard to dispute historical records that show ancient Etruscans already making pasta by grinding several grains and then mixing them with water. That is said to be around 500 B.C.—definitely before Marco ate macaroni for the first time!

Pasta is simple

It takes a few simple ingredients to make one of the world’s most perfectly delicious foods. Traditionally, pasta is made from durum wheat and water. Fresh egg pasta recipes require eggs, and sometimes olive oil.

Italians eat the most pasta

It’s no surprise that Italy is the country that eats the greatest amount of pasta worldwide. What is surprising is that Venezuela and Tunisia are the second and third countries that consume the most pasta.

The International Pasta Organization claims that if Italians ate their average yearly amount of pasta in spaghetti, they would eat enough noodles to wrap around the planet 15,000 times!

While the most common grain used for making pasta is wheat or whole wheat, there are alternatives for those who can’t eat wheat. Gluten-free pasta can be made from barley, rice, and even corn. Here at Union Street, we use a gluten-free fusilli pasta as a delicious substitute to our regular wheat pastas.

Pasta wasn’t always affordable

At first, pasta was a luxury item in Italy. It required high labour costs because it was made by hand using different techniques. After the industrial revolution, a machine allowed for the large-scale production of dry pasta, making it affordable and popular among everyone.

There’s more than one shape

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re aware that a variety of pasta shapes are available for consumption. According to the International Pasta Organization, there are more than 600 different shapes of pasta produced throughout the world. Yes, over 600 shapes! Wow!

There’s a reason behind all those shapes. Each one is good at something. Short and hollow pastas are great with thick, meaty sauces, while thin pastas are best with creamier sauces.

Tomato sauce came later—much later

People had been eating pasta for thousands of years before tomato sauce became a thing. Tomatoes were introduced in 1519, when Spanish explorer Cortez brought tomatoes to Europe from Mexico. Shortly afterwards, tomatoes and pasta became an iconic combination in Italy.

Pasta makes people happy

Eating pasta makes you happy! It’s true! The carbohydrates in pasta increase the body’s production of serotonin—the neurotransmitter that triggers feelings of happiness and well-being. Add that science stuff to the fact that pasta tastes great, and you’ve got yourself one happy and well-fed individual.

Different pasta needs different sauce

Not all pastas are meant to be enjoyed with the same sauce. Long, flat pasta (like fettuccine and linguine) is best paired with creamy sauces because the sauce clings better to that particular pasta shape. Thick and chunky tomato sauces pair better with short, tubular or spiral shaped pasta (like rotini and fusilli).

Pasta was originally eaten by hand

Back when etiquette and saucy dishes weren’t a thing, people ate pasta with their hands. When pasta was introduced to the tomato, it became difficult—and messy—to eat by hand, and cutlery was introduced to the meal.

Pasta is healthy

Pasta is a nutritious complex carbohydrate. When combined with vegetables, meats, and legumes it becomes one of the easiest and healthiest of mealtime choices.

There’s a World Pasta Day!

October 25 is World Pasta Day. That’s today!!!

This day annually recognizes the important role that pasta plays in helping to feed the world with healthy, sustainable, and tasty dishes.

It’s a delicious dessert

Pasta desserts have been enjoyed in Italy since the Renaissance—back when pasta was a luxury food served to the wealthy topped with sugar, grated nutmeg, and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

Today, there are dozens of fabulous Italian desserts made with pasta. That’s right, dozens! From crunchy-chewy chocolate pasta pie to fried angel hair pasta topped with honey and pistachios to dessert ravioli baked and filled with everything you can imagine—like chocolate and sweet ricotta fillings.

Don’t use a spoon with spaghetti

Italians never use a spoon and a fork when eating spaghetti. This is a North American habit.

Do like the Italians do, and simply twirl a fork against the dish.

It wasn’t always al dente

Cooking firm, yet tender, pasta hasn’t always been the way that Italians prepare pasta. Before the 16th century, all the pasta dishes were cooked for a longer duration and enjoyed as a sticky texture.

We now know better. All great pasta should be cooked to perfection—not limp and mushy! So, be sure to always keep an eye on your noodles and slightly under cook them in salted water.

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If you’re suddenly feeling hungry, come join us for some pasta! We have six succulent pasta dishes on our menu. Any one of them is sure to please your current cravings, and all of them can be made gluten-free when you ask for our gluten-free fusilli.

Click here to see which pasta dish you’d like to order!