When it comes to the origins of Italian pasta, it seems everyone wants to take credit. One story tells of Marco Polo’s travels to China, claiming that among the many treasures he brought back from the court of Kublai Kahn, it was the noodles that were most beloved by the Italians he introduced them to.
Another claims that it was the spread of Arab culture through the Mediterranean that brought pasta into Italy, where it quickly spread from south to north, taking on hundreds different shapes and sizes. Still others claim that paintings inside ancient Etruscan tombs show evidence of special tools being used to make pasta.
Pasta is food for people who love food, because pasta loves food. Long, supple linguine noodles glide through olive oil and basil to wrap themselves around your fork. Tender pockets of ravioli embrace a mouthful of ricotta and spinach. Butterfly-shaped farfalle dance between chunks of ripe tomato and salty slices of olive.
Every unique shape of pasta has its own way of blending with rich sauces, fresh vegetables, or whatever is in the kitchen and waiting to be eaten. Sprinkled with fresh herbs and coated in melted butter, pasta is simple and unpretentious; but stacked between layers of tender meat and rich tomato sauce, oozing with cheese, it is also mysterious and inviting. But however it’s eaten, pasta is more than just cuisine, it’s a reflection of the people who make it and eat it together.