National Spaghetti Day
There’s one dish that unites us all… From young children obsessed with chicken tendies to hardcore foodies to broke college students to animated street dogs and everyone in between… Spaghetti! It’s National Spaghetti Day on January 4th, so let’s dig into this delightful dish with some delish spaghetti facts!
Even though spaghetti is thought of as an Italian delicacy, it originated in China as early as 5,000 B.C. Another common misconception is that Marco Polo introduced Chinese pasta to Italy… In fact, another Genoan soldier requested “bariscella penia de macarone” – a small basket of macaroni- in his will 16 years before Marco Polo returned from his adventures in China. So pasta was already in Italy before Marco Polo was in the picture!
In the years after its introduction in Italy, spaghetti and other dry pastas were a luxury. This is due to the long kneading time and high labor costs it took to produce this tasty treat. It was only after the Industrial Revolution and mechanical advances that large scale production of pasta was possible and spaghetti became a staple in the diets of all.
Founding Father of Pasta
Believe it or not, Thomas Jefferson introduced pasta to America in 1789. Not only was pasta a tasty addition to American cuisine, but Jefferson also grew wheat at Shadwell Farms. This is the plantation that his home Monticello was located on. Jefferson’s father originally used the plantation to grow tobacco. In 1793 Thomas Jefferson returned to the farm from an extended stay in France and switched the plantation over to wheat and grain production. Wheat required less labor (which unfortunately was provided by slaves) but needed greater amounts of organization. The introduction of a new food product required growing new inputs. This is a gap that Thomas Jefferson was more than happy to fill. Jefferson continued to grow wheat on the Shadwell Farm Plantation until his death on July 4, 1826.
American Pasta Production
Wheat production in the United States has continued to grow since the late 1700s as westward expansion lead to new ground that was ideal for wheat production. Wheat is a very diverse crop and not all types of wheat are the same! There are six classes of wheat grown in the United States, but durum wheat is the perfect wheat for pasta production. About 75 million bushels of durum wheat is grown in the U.S. More than 67% of durum wheat is grown in North Dakota. Other states that grow durum wheat include South Dakota, Montana, Minnesota, California and Arizona.
The American durum crop can make a LOT of pasta! About 240 plates of pasta can be created per bushel of wheat. That means that American farmers can grow around 9,600 plates of pasta per acre! The entire U.S. durum crop could produce 720 billion plates, which could give every person on earth two plates of pasta for 48 days. That’s a lotta pasta!
You’ve got the scoop with spaghetti facts, now join us in celebrating this tasty dish!