On Jan. 4, 2018, spaghetti enthusiasts will gather around their dining room tables to enjoy big plates of spaghetti. The question many are left with is simply: “Why?” Spaghetti isn’t some new spectacle that’s just hit kitchens all over the world. It’s a timeless and classic dish that has roots dating as far back as the 5th century.
When and where National Spaghetti Day started is mostly a mystery with no known or recorded origins, but the day has proven to be more than just an excuse to chow down on a big plate of cooked noodles. Throughout the years, National Spaghetti Day has promoted the education of the history behind spaghetti and the nations responsible for its popularity.
To understand the history of National Spaghetti Day, one must trace the origins of the pasta it celebrates. One of the more popular iterations of the history of spaghetti involves China and the travels of explorer Marco Polo. During the late 13th century, Polo raveled to China and was said to have tasted a form of noodle, likely made from rice or hard wheat flour, and brought word of it back to Venice.
While Italy and China are often pegged as the source of spaghetti, the wheat used in Sicily during the Middle Ages has been linked back to the Arabs. In fact, it’s believed that Arab street vendors sold dried noodles at their markets before pasta started popping up in Italy.
Another version, however, can be found in The Book of Roger, an opus written by geographer Abu Abdullah Mohammed al Edrisi. According to Edrisi, during his travels during the 12th century, he came upon the town of Trabia in Sicily and observed that it had been making a long-stranded pasta made from hard wheat.
While the history of spaghetti may be a confusing one marked with many different origins for the popular noodle, National Spaghetti Day is the perfect time to contemplate the true history behind it. To celebrate the lengthy and delicious history of spaghetti, consider making a simple dish of pasta and sauce or go for something a little more complex.