Does Pasta Grow on Trees?
The modern food myth is that pasta is a Chinese invention that was brought to Italy by Marco Polo after his famous trip to the Middle Kingdom in the 13th century. It is also widely claimed that historical records point to the existence of pasta in the pre-Roman Etruscan civilization, which apparently had already been making their own pasta—by smashing the grain with rocks and mixing it with water to create dough—by 500 B.C.
In 1957, however, the BBC pulled off what has been reported in the media as a quite successful April Fools' Day hoax. A three-minute broadcast on BBC’s current affairs programme Panorama narrated by Richard Dimbleby claimed that spaghetti grew on trees. Millions of viewers watched the bogus footage of women harvesting noodles from spaghetti trees in Switzerland. To be fair, unlike the current era of fake news, the broadcast aired during an epoch when people had less reason to question the veracity of images in news stories. In any case, hundreds of viewers called the BBC to ask how they could grow their own spaghetti trees.
With over 600 shapes and more than 1300 names, as well as a multitude of grains used for making it, pasta has a rich, extensive history. That history comprises facts difficult to pull together from numerous sources spread out all over the world, including the (might we say not so trustworthy?), BBC!
Regardless of whether pasta originated in China or grows on trees in Switzerland, there is no doubt that the Italians changed it into what we know today. Italy’s Mediterranean climate, where fresh vegetables and herbs thrive, allowed for Italians to experiment with pasta preparations and create some of what continue to be, all around the world, the most popular sauces to complement pasta dishes.
And here are some shots from one of our recent photo shoots of various pasta types taken by one of our photographers, Chris Linton, with the help of our lovely food stylist, Giulia Verdinelli. A different take on a familiar subject indeed, with the emphasis falling on the colours, shapes, and minimalistic aesthetics of pasta, all perfected by Chris’s beautiful lighting techniques.
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