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Monday, January 4, 2010

Oh Boy it's Spaghetti Day!

No man is lonely eating spaghetti
It requires to much attention.

Christopher Morely

Now, didn't I just pick the perfect day to wish each and every one of you a Happy New Year; It's National Spaghetti Day!!! Well, don't quote me on that. There seems to be some discrepancy as to whether Spaghetti Day is twirled in October; National Pasta Month or January 4th!!! I realize it can all be so confusing. I mean I'm sure there are some of you out there from my generation that may think today is Wednesday (which of course it is not:) Why? Well in those days, Wednesday was Prince ® spaghetti day!

The Origins of Macaroni...

...is veiled by many romantic legends. The Ancient Greeks had a word for it; in their language "macaroni" meant "The Divine Food," a gift from the gods of Olympus.

But it took the glinting eye of a love-smitten Italian sailor and an exotic Chinese maiden to discover the most popular dish ever to grace an Italian table.

According to the fabulous legend, one of Marco Polo's sailors was charmed by the Oriental beauty of the Chinese maiden and while romancing her as she was busily mixed bread dough; the leaves from a nearby tree drifted into the mixture. When the maiden realized what happened she became upset but the clever Italian sailor saved the day. The resourceful sailor forced the dough through a wicker basket and let it dry in the sun. As a parting gesture, the Chinese maiden presented some of the strands to the Italian.

En route to Italy, the sailor decided to cook the strands and everyone liked it, including Marco Polo and named the strands after his crewman Spaghetti. That's the romantic yarn behind this relishing dish.

Whether fact or fiction, it remains that Spaghetti is today one of America's most popular dishes.

Charming story courtesy of the folks at Prince®, isn't it? Although there is much debate about the origin of pasta, one theory we can finally put to rest is the macaroni legacy of Marco Polo and the treasures of spaghetti goodies he supposedly introduced to Italy on his return trip from China. As luck would have it, the Marco Polo story lost total credibility when the will of a Genoan soldier was discovered.

While noted food historian Massimo Alberini was collecting material for the Museo Storico degli Spaghetti (Historical Spaghetti Museum), he discovered a will in the city archives in Genoa. In the document, witnessed and signed by a public notary, Ugolino Scarpa, on February 2nd, 1279, Ponzio Bastone, a soldier, mentions among his belongings una bariscella plena di macaronis, or, a barrel full of macaroni (maccheroni). The document is important for two reasons: first, it dates long before the return of Marco Polo from China; secondly, the word macaroni appears for the first time...

I'm not too keen on beginning the new year dunking into the history of spaghetti. Maybe next year. I had a rough weekend with the move and all. As a matter of fact, the weather was so treacherous, I had to spend New Year's Eve in a hotel:( All is well now though. Sure there are boxes everywhere and it is once again snowing in PA but, I made it back to the truck rental place just in the nick of time, had time to gather my composure yesterday and today, well today is National Spaghetti Day!!! Let's just get to the recipes.

Fun with Spaghetti

Macaroni Frankfurter Casserole

The next recipe for Ready Spaghetti comes from Kids Cooking; A Very slightly Messy Manual published by the editors of Klutz Press and illustrated by Jim M'Guinness. (1987) It's such a fun book for kids. If you ever happen upon it, give it a good look over and I'm sure you will agree. I hope to devote a post to this book eventually however, for now, Ready Spaghetti?

Ready Spaghetti

1. Spaghetti & Meatballs-Crockpot Style (@ Coleen's Recipes) Coleen is celebrating her FIRST blogoversary today!!! 
2. Spaghetti Ring (@ Tried & True Cooking with Heidi)
3. Spaghetti Impossible (@ Marilyn's Simmer Till Done)
4. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang Spaghetti (@ Tiger & Strawberries)
5. Spaghetti Meat Loaf? (@ Rochelle's Vintage Recipes)
6. Lemon Spaghetti? (by Chef Tom)
7. Chocolate Spaghetti??? (@ Dying for Chocolate)
8. Spaghetti Casserole (@ Moveable Feasts)
There are more "adult" like spaghetti links below:)

Pasta is a versatile, nutritious, economical, thus democratic, and increasingly international food. In past times, it was fried and sweetened with honey, or tossed with garum (fish paste) by the ancient Romans. Or it might have been boiled, or baked in rich pies, called timballi, that defied Renaissance sumptuary laws. Today, pasta is usually boiled to a slightly chewy, resistant consistency (al dente), and dressed with a variety of sauces, eaten in soup, or baked. The oldest, most traditional Italian condiment from the thirteenth to the nineteenth centuries consisted of butter and cheese (and sugar, cinnamon, and other spices); pasta was also boiled in meat broths. Only since the 1830s was it combined with the now familiar tomato sauce. In the course of its history, pasta has been both a luxury, and only recently (in the nineteenth century), a popular food. (Encyclopedia of Food & Culture)

Types of Spaghetti

Buctani-Thick Spaghetti shaped pasta that is hollow in the center, similar to a thin straw. Bucatini is the perfect choice for nearly any sauce, or it can be used to make casseroles or stir-fry dishes. Go beyond tomato sauce and see what your favorite becomes.
Fusilli-(Twisted Spaghetti) This long, spiraled shape can be topped with any sauce, broken in half and added to soups, or turned into a beautiful salad. Fusilli also bakes well in casseroles.
Spaghetti–(A length of Cord) America’s favorite shape, Spaghetti is the perfect choice for nearly any sauce, or it can be used to make casseroles or stir-fry dishes. Go beyond tomato sauce and see what your favorite becomes.
Thin Spaghetti–Thin Spaghetti is very similar to Vermicelli. Each one is slightly thinner than Spaghetti. Thin Spaghetti is perfect topped with any sauce, or as a salad or stir-fry ingredient.
Vermicelli–(Little Worms) Slightly thinner than Spaghetti, Vermicelli is good topped with any sauce, or as a salad or stir-fry ingredient.
It cannot be stressed enough; cook pasta until it is al dente, firm to the teeth yet tender. Many Americans cook pasta until it is too soft, a minute or two less of cooking time will give you authentic Italian pasta. Fresh pasta will take even less time to be cooked to perfection. Another key to perfect pasta is to use a large cooking pot and plenty of water; this will stop the pasta from sticking and will also ensure every inch of pasta will be cooked though. Don't forget to add plenty of salt to the cooking water before adding the pasta, good pasta is almost never has salt in it so this is the only time it can be seasoned. Some people add a little olive oil to the cooking water to stop the pasta from sticking and while that works for larger pasta like lasagna it is not necessary if you use a large pot, plenty of water and remember to stir the pasta. When draining the pasta remember to save about a cup of the water in the pot, this starchy water will add a little body to whatever sauce you choose. Never, ever rinse off the pasta after cooking unless you're making pasta salad. Washing off all that starch and salt will kill any flavor your pasta once had. (source)
1. Spaghetti & Meatballs-Crockpot Style (@ Coleen's Recipes) Coleen is celebrating her FIRST blogoversary today!!!
2. Spaghetti Ring (@ Tried & True Cooking with Heidi)
3. Spaghetti Impossible (@ Simmer Till Done)
4. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang Spaghetti (@ Tiger & Strawberries)
5. Spaghetti Meat Loaf? (@ Rochelle's Vintage Recipes)
6. Lemon Spaghetti? (by Chef Tom)

Here's a question for you. Do you have a day of the week you associate with a beloved (or not so beloved:) food? Is Monday Rice and Beans night at your house? Fish or Pizza on Fridays? When's your Taco Night?
FYI: On April 1, 1957 the British news show Panorama broadcast a three-minute segment about a bumper spaghetti harvest in southern Switzerland. Was it a Hoax???

Resources
1. Italian Pasta Through the Ages
2. Was Spaghetti Invented in Sicily?
3. Pasta Shapes & Uses
More Recipes
1. Spanish Spaghetti (adapted from Cooking Light) (@ A Good Appetite)
2. Greek-Style Shrimp Scampi W/Whole Wheat Spaghetti (adapted from Cooking Light) (@ The Recipe Girl)
3. Spaghetti de pollo de la abuela or Grandma’s Chicken Spaghetti (@ Laylita's Recipes)
4. Heirloom Tomato and Spaghetti Strata (@ Coconut & Lime)
5. Beans, Greens, and Broken Spaghetti Soup (@ Proud Italian Cook)
6. Three-Cheese Baked Spaghetti (@ Tammy's Recipes)
7. Slow-Simmered Calamari with Spaghetti & Spinach (@ A Mingling of Tastes)
8. Spaghetti with Fennel & Salami (@ What's for Lunch Honey)
9. Basic fare: spaghetti (Restauranting through History)
10. Spaghetti Bolognaise, not the “real thing” but it can be good
11. Homemade Bread Sticks (all this pasta begs for Homemade Bread Sticks @ For the Love of Cooking)