Around the World in 80 Plates: Making pasta in Italy

Pasta has been around for so long that nobody really knows when it started; its been recorded in history as far back as the Ancient Greek diets, as well as recorded in China for centuries before that. It can be made with any number of starchy plants like flour, rice, barley, and buckwheat. Italians make dried pasta into lots of different shapes and colors, though they all provide about the same amount of energy per bite, even if they’re shells or twisties. At the last official count, there were over 400 different pasta shapes! From shells, elbows, and bowties to the filled shapes like ravioli, tortellini, and cjalsons (half-moon shapes filled with greens and cheese!) there is always a new pasta dish to try. Some folks have even written big books that explain each Italian pasta. Check one out at your library if you want to learn more! (Librarians love to help you find books!)

Italians are famous for making pasta, and have been sharing their traditions for generations. Different parts of Italy traditionally preferred different types of pasta; in the northern area they use more dried pasta, and in the south they make more fresh pasta. (All shapes and sizes of pasta are sold all across Italy though.) The pasta masters are usually the “nonnas”, or grandmothers, of each family and they are the ones that teach the young people how to make the traditional shapes of pasta.

You can try it too! All you need to know is that it is okay to make a mess and get your hands dirty, as long as you clean up when you are done! There are lots of recipes for sauce you can use on this blog, and over at createbetterhealth.org, to serve your fresh pasta. Consider using lots of veggies, meatballs, and cheese to cover all of the MyPlate food groups in one dish!

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