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Who Invented Pasta?

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When we hear the word pasta, the first thing that comes to mind is Italy. It is widely accepted that pasta was invented in Rome. However, the oldest pasta or noodle was found in China, which was around 4000 years old. These lead historians to be more specific on what constitutes pasta. Although pasta can be in noodle form, noodles are not always pasta. This would mean that the only noodle that is considered as pasta is the spaghetti.

4,000 year old noodle found in China4,000 year old noodle found in China. It was made with 2 types of millet. Modern North American and European noodles are made with wheat. © K.B.K. Teo, E. Minoux et al., Nature.

The Durum Wheat Semolina

This noodle is made using a technique that makes the dough very malleable, which is also used to form other pastas such as ziti and macaroni. This lead to several speculations on when was the first official pasta was invented. One key ingredient is used to determine if a dough-based food is pasta, the durum wheat semolina. This means that the noodles made in China are not considered pasta since they are made from millet. Fine sheets of dough referred to as Lagana in Ancient Roman language was discovered to have existed in the 1st century B.C.

From Lagana to Lasagna

The term eventually became lasagna in Italy. Several similar creations where mentioned in the Talmud and was common in Israel in the 3rd century A.D. An earlier, pasta-like creation known as itrion was discovered in Greece in the 2nd century A.D. However, the first ever record of the existence of a dough made from durum wheat semolina came from the Arabs in the end of the 7th century A.D. during the siege of Sicily.

We may never know exactly who discovered it

Historians speculate that the Arabs discovered the durum wheat semolina dough in Sicily, which is a part of Italy. The trail ends there. It may be true that pasta was indeed invented in Italy. We may never know who actually invented it. It could have been a family recipe pass down through generations since the beginning of the Roman Empire. This would explain why Italy is considered as the birthplace of the authentic pasta.