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Thursday, June 20, 2024
  In Italy, a lot of people are convinced that pasta was invented in China and brought to Italy by Marco Polo in the 13th century. In the book "Il Milione" or "The Million", Marco Polo observes that he saw and tasted a "lasagna similar to that which we prepare with wheat flour". There are even conflicting reports that perhaps he really never made it into China proper, and that his explorations took him instead to the northern reaches of Persia. In his dotage, Marco Polo was nicknamed

"Marco of the millions" because the Veneziani took the stories of his travels to be exaggerated. On his deathbed, a priest offered him a last chance to confess his mendacity, and Marco, it is said, replied "I have not told the half of what I saw and did". For what it is worth, the Chinese do have an extensive array of different types of pasta, and most are from ancient recipes. But the truth is, so did many other cultures at that time, especially those that had an abundance of wheat. As for Marco Polo bringing pasta to Italy in the 13th century, it is highly likely that what he really brought was a different recipe for a different type of pasta.

" Pasta" is the Italian word for "dough." All pasta is made from a dough made of grain flour mixed with water. There are many different shapes and sizes of pasta. The shape of the noodles determines the name of the pasta:

Spaghetti - "cord"
Linguini - "little tongues"
Vermicelli - "little worms"
Conchiglie - "shells"
Rigatoni - short, wide fluted tubes
Lasagna - broad, sometime ruffled, ribbons of pasta
Fettucine - "small ribbons"
Ravioli - "little turnips"
Rotini - "spirals" or "twists"
Capellini - "fine hairs"
Fusilli - "little spindles"
Penne - "quills"
Tortellini - "little cakes"
Cannelloni - tube-or cane-shaped pasta

(Source: Concetta’s Cucina, http://pages.zdnet.com/wjwalker/recipes/index.html)
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