For Italians, pasta is a symbol of family, of union. The history of pasta begins very far. There are archaeological evidences that show how the Etruscans and the Romans cooked pasta, in particular the “lagana”, a primitive lasagna.
The history of dry pasta begins with the Arab domination of Sicily. It was 1154, when the Arab geographer Edrisi mentioned “a food of flour in the form of threads”, the “triyah” prepared in Trabia (now Palermo). From Sicily the pasta thus prepared was then exported to the continent. Also according to the Arab geographer, already in the mid-1100s in Sicily and in particular in the area of Trabia so much pasta was produced that it was exported “in all parts, in Calabria and in other Muslim and Christian countries and many loads of ships “. Dried pasta was suitable for keeping for a long time and therefore was easily preserved during travel. Pasta will become mass food only in the seventeenth century and out of necessity: the very serious famine that broke out in the Kingdom of Naples combined with the demographic overcrowding led the Neapolitans to starve: they could no longer buy meat but not even bread. Thus the population began to feed themselves with pasta which in the meantime had become cheaper thanks to the invention of new tools that made production easier and faster, namely the “gramola” and the “torchio”.
While the Etruscan-Roman “lagana” was baked in the oven together with its condiment, in the Middle Ages the new custom was launched, which has continued to this day, of boiling pasta in water, broth and sometimes milk.
Today dry pasta is widespread all over the world and there are different formats, from the most classic and famous spaghetti, penne rigate, tortiglioni, fusilli, farfalle, up to more particular shapes such as the typical Apulian orecchiette. One of the best known combinations for dry pasta are spaghetti with tomato sauce, a true Italian symbol in the world. A very simple dish but difficult in its preparation, as it is necessary to use the few ingredients that are needed to give that typical Italian flavor.
A curiosity about the processing of dry pasta is the “trafilatura” and its importance. “Trafilatura” is the preparation phase in which the dough is placed in a cavity with the desired shape and cut into the desired length. There are two types of “trafilatura”, bronze and Teflon. The bronze “trafilatura” guarantees a rougher pasta that captures the sauce well, but also absorbs more water during cooking; Teflon “trafilatura” allows the pasta to withstand cooking better.