Holiday time is a time of celebration and that means… food! One of the easiest and most pleasant ways people begin to learn about other cultures is through sampling different ethnic foods. However, it’s interesting to discover that, sometimes, more than one culture lays claim to having invented a food.
Take pasta. Many give Italy credit for this delicious staple. However, a 4,000-year-old bowl of noodles was unearthed in China in 2005 giving credence to many in that country who claim that pasta is an Asian, not an Italian, invention.
It all depends on how you define pasta. The thin yellow noodles that were unearthed at an archaeological site in northwestern China revealed a noodle made of two kinds of millet. Some say that to be a true pasta the noodles must be made from the unleavened dough of durum wheat semolina. Using that definition of pasta, others claim that pasta was discovered in Italy in the 1st century AD.
However, to further complicate things, some say it was Arabs who, at that time, discovered a wheat pasta near Sicily. Others say that yes, indeed, the Arabs were the first to create a wheat pasta, but it wasn’t discovered in Italy at all. It was brought there from the Mideast.
More easily documented is the addition of tomato sauce (and the need to eat pasta with a fork, not the fingers) which came in the 1700s and shows up in the cookbook L’Apicio Moderno by Roman chef Francesco Leonardi in 1790. One thing is for certain: people love this versatile food and eating food from around the world is one of the great joys in life and one of the easiest ways to connect.
Next week: More Ethnic Food Fights
- For a National Geographic article on the discovery of the 4000 year old noodle in China, go to: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/10/1012_051012_chinese_noodles.html
- For a photo of the noodles go to: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/10/1012_051012_noodles.html