All things considered pasta is a rather remarkable food.
One of it's relatively more astonishing attributes isn't just how long pasta has graced tables.
The fact that it has changed so little over the centuries and possibly millennia that it has provided us with cheap (provided of course that we don't overdo the use of expensive sauces) but nutritious meals must verge on the astonishing.
It's pretty certain that the ancient Greeks and Romans prepared pasta differently to the way we do it now.
However, pasta dishes prepared during the Renaissance would not be out of place on modern day tables.
Pasta, being made from relatively simple ingredients, wheat and eggs which are simply prepared by basic mixing are just two of the reasons pasta has satisfied and remained relatively unchanged for over 500 years.
Being easy to prepare by simple boiling or baking together with the fact that it can provide very appetising, relatively cheap and healthy meals contribute to its sustained popularity.
People often think that the fact that pasta comes in different sizes and shapes is purely a ploy by the manufacturers to increase sales, or, alternatively purely as a decorative effect.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The different shapes and sizes have a logical and real reason for their existence.
Sauces cling very well to the large surface area on the starchy food.
The variety of shapes gives us the ability to layer or stuff the various pastas, some of which are better used in soups or stews or in baking or in salads or as a medium for delightful sauces.
In spite of its reputation for being fattening pasta is a very healthy food.
The undeserved reputation has come about because of the rich sauces with which we tend to smother our humble pasta.
Actually pasta as a low calorie, low glycemic index food is a heart beneficial dish.
In itself pasta contains only 100 calories and ½ gram of fat per half cup, which makes it perfect even for those on a strict diet.
As a complex carbohydrate with a low glycemic index pasta is digested slowly leading to an even and gradual production of blood sugar making it ideal for diabetics, always provided, of course that any accompanying sauces don't destroy its beneficial effect.
Because it is high in fibre pasta also helps ensure bowel regularity.
There is some evidence, non-conclusive at this stage, that it is helpful in forestalling intestinal cancers.
But one thing about pasta has changed dramatically over the centuries.
There are today more helpful tools and machines to create and prepare pasta than ever before.
The variety and utility of rollers, cutters, bowls and other tools is greater than ever.
Materials science and ergonomic designs have made these things stronger, healthier and less expensive.
Pasta making machines are cheaper, more reliable and come with a larger assortment of useful attachments than they did even as recently as twenty years ago.
When you think of pasta, you shouldn't think of a plain, humble mundane food you really shouldn't eat.
Think of it rather as something healthy, easy to prepare and cook which makes for great table presentation.
Pasta a food which can inexpensively serve a family of four or a party of one hundred, and which can be presented in a dazzling array of different tasty dishes.
The acceptance of pasta as a modern convenience food has certainly been enhanced by the spread of franchised pizza and pasta outlets which are gaining increased international acceptance.
Certainly in South Africa there appears to be at least one pasta outlet in any shopping mall
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