Spaghetti Stories : From Cuisine to Culture

spaghetti, Big Purple Marble

“On top of spaghetti,
All covered with cheese,
I lost my poor meatball,
When somebody sneezed.”

That old children’s tune, On Top of Spaghetti, is just one song that includes the word “spaghetti” in its lyrics. Cyndi Lauper (Brimstone and Fire), Ella Fitzgerald (I Got a Guy), and even Guns N’ Roses (The Spaghetti Incident?) created lyrics involving the thin string of pasta. Urban Dictionary states that “dropping spaghetti” can also mean experiencing an embarrassing act or awkward moment.

The First String

Many debate over the origin of the well-known pasta. Some believe it was a Chinese invention, and Marco Polo brought the food back to Europe. Quite honestly, every country across the world may have been making some sort of noodle for dinner at that time. Let’s face it, combining flour and water and stretching it into a satisfying meal is economical and keeps the kids entertained at dinner.

But it may be a Sicilian invention. In the early 1100s, King Roger II hired a geographer named Al-Sharif al-Idrisi to record the lives and customs of the people of Sicily. He found villagers in Trabia making hard wheat pasta in long strings. They called it “itrya,” and they manufactured the food for export to regions including Calabria. The geographer found it interesting enough to note in the resulting book, titled the Book of Roger, so the noodle was probably not widely known in other areas at that time.

Big Purple Marble, Clint Eastwood, spaghetti western

Space … Cowboys

This pasta, probably today’s vermicelli (meaning “little worms” in Italian), could have been the first mass production of pasta in the world. Since then, spaghetti has become well-known around the world. The name spaghetti is an Italian word that means “little twines.”

Spaghetti has found its way into the culture in other ways. The term “spaghetti western” describes a genre of films that developed in the 1960s after Sergio Leone’s films became huge successes at the box-office.  Most spaghetti westerns filmed between 1964 and 1978 were made on low budgets and shot in various locations around southern Italy and Spain. His Dollars Trilogy was made up of three films – A Fistful of DollarsFor a Few Dollars More, and The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

The stringy pasta made it into astrophysics as well. Spaghettification (also known as  the noodle effect) is the stretching of objects into long thin shapes by entering certain types of gravitational fields. We’ll let the experts explain it to you here.

Fork or Quark – Salute Spaghetti

Spaghetti is quite simply made from flour (usually semolina flour) and water. However, variations have become popular, including spaghetti made from corn, soy, or bean starch. Spaghetti does not have eggs as an ingredient, although other types of noodles may include them.

Celebrate National Spaghetti Day (January 4th) by eating a plate of your favorite pasta and sauce, singing a spaghetti song, watching a Clint Eastwood classic, or studying the strange effects of space!

Feature photo by wolf23362 of PixaBay


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