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Nothing says Italian food like pasta. Pasta is an integral part of Italy’s food history. Wherever Italians immigrated they have brought their pasta along, so much so today it can be considered a staple of international cuisine.

Many school children were taught that the Venetian merchant Marco Polo brought back pasta from his journeys to China.

Some may have also learned that Polo’s was not a discovery, but rather a rediscovery of a product once popular in Italy among the Etruscans and the Romans.

Well, Marco Polo might have done amazing things on his journeys, but bringing pasta to Italy was not one of them: noodles were already there in Polo’s time.

There is indeed evidence of an Etrusco-Roman noodle made from the same durum wheat used to produce modern pasta: it was called “lagane” (origin of the modern word for lasagna).

However, this type of food, first mentioned in the 1st century AD, was not boiled, as it is usually done today, but oven-baked. Ancient lagane had some similarities with modern pasta, but cannot be considered quite the same.

The modern word “macaroni” derives from the Sicilian term for kneading the dough with energy, as early pasta making was often a laborious, day-long process.

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