It is often said that Marco Polo brought the recipe for noodles to Italy after his journeys through China, and so most people believe that the Italians did not invent spaghetti.
The spaghetti that most people eat today, however, is quite different from the noodles of yesteryear. Earlier noodles were made by mixing flour with eggs, the resulting mixture being cut to shape and laid out in the Sun to dry. Modern pasta has no eggs and is dried in special chambers where cool, dry air is circulated around the pasta to ensure it dries evenly to avoid cracking or warping. This type of spaghetti was very definitely invented by the Italians. In fact, it was the creation of one Italian in particular: Nicola de Cecco.
De Cecco ran a flour mill at Fara San Martino in Abruzzo – he was dissatisfied with the sun-drying of pasta as it gave unreliable results, and the pasta often warped, which made it difficult to package for transport. In 1886, he developed his method of drying pasta in cool, dry conditions and founded the De Cecco company. He later adopted a logo of a young country woman carrying a sheaf of wheat and went into mass production. The company is still operating in Fara San Martino, and a second factory was built in the nearby town of Pescara in the 1950s.
So although noodles and pasta may not have originated in Italy, we have an Italian to thank for the modern form of pasta we enjoy around the world.
Answered by one of our Q&A experts, Rupert Matthews. For more fascinating question by Rupert, and the rest of our panel, pick up a copy of History Revealed! Available in print and for digital devices.