Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

A highly important and satisfying category of food which presents two paradoxical aspects. One is that it overlaps very extensively with the category of noodles. The other is that until very recently there was no adequate name for it. In Italy, where pasta had previously just meant ‘dough’, it was necessary to say paste alimentari to indicate what everyone now knows as pasta. In the English language it had been necessary to use the word ‘noodles’ or adopt circumlocutions such as ‘macaroni products’ (or even the offputting ‘alimentary pastes’, in direct translation from the Italian). It was only after the Second World War that ‘pasta’ started to establish itself in its present wide meaning. However, although the name in its present sense has but a short history, the range of products to which it refers has a long one.