Pasta has become so ubiquitous it has its own national day – Oct. 17. National Pasta Day observers have countless ways to celebrate, whether it be with their favorite box of spaghetti, pasta maker or local Italian restaurant, there’s really no wrong you can do.
Before you get to work on your dinner or date night plans, here are some pasta fun facts that’ll impress your meal pals.
The inventor of pasta remains a mystery
Pasta has been around for thousands of years. According to the National Pasta Association’s website Share the Pasta, the earliest known reference noodle dish can be traced back to the fourth century B.C. In Tuscany, there’s an Etruscan tomb where an ancient wall mural depicts what appears to be a man making pasta with primitive equipment. The Etruscans were an early pre-Roman civilization that lasted until 27 B.C. It’s not clear when the first pasta dish was officially made.
There are hundreds of pasta types
Share the Pasta claims there are more than “600 pasta shapes.” The national pasta authority says each pasta type serves a “delicious purpose” and can have noodles that are long, short or stuffed while others are better suited for soups or a macaroni dish (cheese or salad).
Although pasta wasn’t created in the U.S. it hasn’t stopped Americans from loving the Italian dish. (iStock)
Of these many pasta types, most are made from white flour, whole grain, wheat or rice, according to Share the Pasta. There are even plant-based versions that have become popular as more consumers seek out gluten-free options, which can be made from grains like barley, rye, spelt, farro, bulgur or from actual vegetables and legumes like zucchinis (also known as zoodles), carrots, squash and chickpeas.
The world’s most expensive pasta costs four figures
While pasta has traditionally been an affordable dish, restaurants have created luxury menu items that are made with pricy or rare ingredients. The world’s most expensive pasta can be ordered at the BiCE Cucina in New York City, which has one location in Midtown and Soho. Ordering the restaurant’s black truffle and lobster tagliolini pasta will set you back at least $2,000. The dish is also served with veal, fried calamari and a chocolate mousse cake.
Al dente pasta reportedly keeps you full
Some people might prefer their pasta to be soft, but al dente pasta might be better for your digestive system. The al dente cooking style, which means to cook pasta “to the tooth,” should result in tender and firm noodles.
According to a blog post from Ottavio, a Montréal-based Italian restaurant, al dente pasta reportedly takes longer to digest, which should leave most consumers feeling full for longer compared to fully cooked pasta. Al dente pasta also requires more chewing than its softer counterparts, which is a task that might stop some from overeating.
Some people might prefer their pasta to be soft, but al dente pasta might be better for your digestive system. (iStock)
Americans like to eat pasta but not nearly as much as Italians do
Pasta stats published in the International Pasta Organization’s last World Pasta Industry Status Report from 2019 says Americans eat roughly 20 pounds of pasta per year on average. Italians reportedly eat more than double that amount with roughly 50.9 pounds eaten per capita each year.