World Pasta Day – Hooray!

10/25/2012

Here at the Wheat Foods Council, we celebrate the merits of pasta on a regular basis. But today is the day to really get your pasta on. It’s October 25—World Pasta Day!

World Pasta Day seeks to promote the nutritional value, convenience, and affordability of pasta. Conceptualized in 1995 at the World Pasta Congress in Rome, the event is celebrated across the globe in the form of special events and promotional initiatives.

Derived from the Italian word for paste—meaning a combination of flour and water—pasta has a rich and colorful history. According to the National Pasta Association, the Chinese began making a noodle-like food as early as 3000 B.C., and Greek mythology suggests that the Greek God Vulcan invented a device that made strings of dough—the world’s first spaghetti! 

Pasta arrived in the New World via the English, who discovered the wheat staple while touring Italy.  When colonists arrived in America, they brought with them the English practice of cooking macaroni at least one hour, then topping the dish with cream sauce and cheese. In 1848 Frenchman Antoine Zerega created the first industrial pasta factory in Brooklyn, spreading the spaghetti strands on his roof to dry in the sun.

 Over 150 years later, the wonderful world of pasta has come a long way. The United States alone produces 4.4 billion pounds of pasta each year, making it the world’s second largest pasta-producing country. And Americans are doing more than just producing pasta—they’re enjoying the fruits of their labor! According to the National Pasta Association, 24% of the global consumption of pasta is by Americans, with the average American consuming 20 lbs. of pasta annually.

 What are you waiting for? Join us in celebrating this delicious and nutritious food.  (A serving of enriched pasta provides about 25% of the recommended daily intake of folic acid!) Check out the recipe section of the Wheat Foods Council website for some tasty pasta recipes to try -- http://wheatfoods.org/recipes. Also, to get more whole grains into your diet, remember there are a number of pasta shapes available in whole wheat now. Generally, whole wheat pastas work best in recipes calling for chunkier, heartier sauces. Dig in!

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