Just like cheese and wine or bread and butter, meat and pasta is a match made in heaven – what can be more delicious than strands of pasta covered in your favourite tomato or cream-based meat sauce?! Just thinking about Carbonara Alfredo or Ragù Napoletano has us craving what must surely be Italy’s greatest export – and yes, the pasta did originate in Italy, despite a misconception that it was first eaten in China.
This myth came about because of something the explorer, Marco Polo, wrote in one of his travel journals in the 13th century, but references to pasta were already being made in the northern parts of Italy during his time away; and in fact a century before that, the Muslim geographer, al-Idrisi, wrote about seeing pasta made on the island of Sicily.
The word ‘pasta’ has its origins in Greek and Latin – in the former it means ‘barley porridge’ and in the latter, it means ‘dough pastry cake’. But in Italian, the word means ‘paste’ which refers to the way pasta is made – creating a paste by mixing water and flour, along with other ingredients.
Paradoxically enough, while pasta might be considered the food of the masses today, this wasn’t always the case, in its earliest days, it was seen as a nobleman’s dish and only served at the finest banquets. An example of this decadence is a dish created by Bartolomeo Scappi, a chef during the Renaissance period for Pope Pius V – ravioli filled with a paste made from boiled pork belly, cow udders, roast pork, Parmesan cheese, fresh cheese, sugar, herbs, spices and raisins.
Thankfully pasta-making has evolved over the centuries, we’ve not only moved on from boiled pork belly and cow udders, but we’ve also added variety – today there are apparently more than 600 different shapes of pasta. And did you know that different shapes require different sauces? Long, flat pastas such as linguine are best served with creamy sauces because it clings better to that shape, whereas tubular or spiral shapes such as fusilli are best served with chunkier tomato and meat sauces because these shapes capture the sauce better – who knew.
As the Italian film director, Federico Fellini, said ‘life is a combination of magic and pasta’ so go ahead and enjoy! But regardless of which type of pasta you prefer, be sure to choose the best quality meat for all your sauces, and for the perfect partnership, remember N1 – offering the best in meat wholesalers South Africa.