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Often, pasta is turned into these native forms, to suit the palate of the patrons. In India, where spices are a must in the cuisine, pasta in its original form is unpalatable

Every country has its own flour-based dish, and somehow this dish manages to represent the entire cultural landscape of the nation. In this context, pasta has become a portion of globally acclaimed comfort food, despite its humble origins in Italy. Made from flour, eggs, and water, this simple yet versatile dish has crossed many borders, and made a place in the menus and food preferences of various cultures.

Marco Polo is the man who is responsible for bringing pasta out of Italy and placing it on the world map. Although he birthed a misconception that pasta originated in China, he propagated the idea of boiled flour that was elaborately cut into various shapes. The Chinese version of pasta is believed to be somewhat close to dumplings, as stated by later historians.


Pasta rolled and cut out, ready to be boiled and seasoned Pasta making takes time, especially the traditional way Image credit: Photo by Rebeca G Sendroiu on Unsplash


In Italy itself, pasta was the food of the nobility. It began as a luxury that the working class could not afford. Pasta-making takes time, especially the traditional way. Certain shapes are matched with certain kinds of sauces, and some procedures are more tedious than others. Making the flour, reaching the right consistency, and then rolling out the shapes alone are a couple hours' worth of work. Those who did not have time on their hands could not spend it on food. When pasta secca, or pasta that is dried and stored, became popular, it became accessible across its native state as well.

While the debate around pasta was circulating widely, noodles were being developed in China. Historians also discovered other forms of pasta in different countries, like the Middle Eastern Rishta. Often, pasta is turned into these native forms, to suit the palate of the patrons. In India, where spices are a must in the cuisine, pasta in its original form is unpalatable. Ingredients like paneer (Indian cottage cheese), chilly, and tadka (masala) are central to some Indianised versions.

Pasta Secca or dired pasta is cut and dried When pasta secca, or pasta that is dried and stored, became popular, it became accessible across its native state as well. Image credit: Photo by Heather Gill on Unsplash


So why is pasta so widely accepted in the menus and cultures of the world?

Pasta is something that is easily malleable in cultural preferences. Since it meets the nutritional requirements of a single meal, in addition to its unique taste, it allows for the perfect blend of native and exotic. To be known as someone who eats pasta is to be known as someone with access to global diversity, someone who has tasted the cuisine of those across the sea. Perhaps the erstwhile class debate that existed in Italy is carried over with the mention of the word 'pasta' itself. Perhaps the initial association of pasta with nobility has indirectly shaped the way it is understood in the hierarchy of taste, culture, and the exotic.

Keywords: Pasta, Nobility, Marco Polo, Italy


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