1. In 2008, Italy exported 1.7million tonnes of pasta, the largest export markets being Germany, the UK, France, the US and Japan.
2. The first ever reference of pasta dates back to 1154. However, in the 1st century BC, Horace referred to ‘lagana’, fine sheets of dough fried and eaten, while a 5th century cookbook described ‘lagana’ as layers of dough with meat stuffing, similar to our lasagne now.
3. Pasta is made from unleavened dough made from durum wheat flour mixed with water or eggs.
4. There are 310 confirmed forms of pasta, known by over 1,300 names!
5. There are three types of pasta dishes: ‘asciutta’ (plated and served with a sauce, eg. spaghetti bolognese), ‘in brodo’ (in a broth, eg. risoni) and ‘al forno’ (baked as part of a dish, eg. lasagne).
6. The word comes from the Latin word ‘pasta’, which means “dough, pastry cake”.
7. Jamie Oliver’s basic pasta recipe involves whizzing up 600g ‘00’ flour and 6 large organic eggs in a food processor to make a dough, thoroughly kneading, resting in the fridge in cling wrap then rolling and putting through a pasta machine.
8. ‘Al dente’ literally means ‘to the tooth’. Cooked pasta should be firm yet tender.
9. Thomas Jefferson brought the first macaroni machine to America in 1789 when he returned home from his ambassador role in Europe.
10. Wholewheat pasta is low in calories, full of minerals like magnesium, iron and calcium and can help keep bones, heart and muscles healthy.
11. Sophia Loren once said: “Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti,” referring to her famously curvy figure.
12. Pasta existed for thousands of years before anyone actually thought to smother it in tomato sauce.
13. The average person in Italy eats more than 51lbs of pasta every year.