Pasta did not originate during the thirteenth century. A popular myth, pasta originated from Marco Polo’s voyage back from China, when he brought back noodles to Venice. According to food historian Serventi et al. (2003, p211) the myth originated in the 1920s from Macaroni Journal as an American promotional policy. In fact pasta originated 4,000 years ago. According to a national geographic article the preserved bowl of noodles was found below ten feet of dirt in Laija archaeological site (Roach, 2005). The bowl of noodles found at the Laija archaeological site in Northern China is significant because it is the earliest empirical evidence of noodles. Huoyuan Li from the Institute of Geology found that the 4,000 year old noodles were made from broomcorn and foxtail millet grains at the Beijing Chinese Academy of Sciences. Roach argues that millet grain was indigenous to China because the grain was grown and cultivated 7,000 years ago (Roach, 2005).
Pasta was mass produced in America after World War II. The pasta industry found itself in a second industrial revolution. The European pasta industry fell behind America’s pasta industry. The small family enterprises found in Southern Italy went out of business. America was focused on the automatic production of pasta. The modernization of production equipment gave American companies a competitive advantage in manufacturing pasta. American companies would measure semolina, add water, and then condition the pasta into a finished product. In the 1920s America’s pasta industry introduced packaging and marketing. Pasta was packaged in visible cellophane for protection against contamination. Through innovation American companies created standardized pasta products.
In 1929 there were around 3,592 pasta manufacturers in 67 countries. Around 1,600 of the pasta manufacturers at the time were located in Italy. Italian immigrants were importers and entrepreneurs of the pasta industry. Italy re-established its position as the largest pasta producer on Earth between 1945-1950. Pasta remained a food staple in Italian culture. After World War II Italy increased the output of Pasta production. In 1937 Italy produced 660,000 tons of pasta compared to the 1954 Italian production of 1,511,950 tons of pasta. In 1954 there were 1,333 pasta factories in Italy. In 1996 there were only 153 pasta manufacturers in Italy. Italy produced around 3,168,179 tons of pasta in 1998. Italy’s pasta industry flourished due to the improvements made in production.
Italians eat over sixty pounds of pasta per person, per year. Americans eat only twenty pounds of pasta per person, per year. Italians eat either dried pasta, “secca” or fresh pasta, “fresca.” According to the National Pasta Association there are over 350 different shapes and varieties of pasta. Italians has a law that requires dried pasta be made with one-hundred percent durum semolina flour and water. “Al Dente” is an Italian rule of thumb...