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7 More Things You Didn't Know About Pasta

It's surprising that our favorite simple carbohydrate has more than 400 variations – each with its very own sauce. Doesn't sound so simple now, does it?

Pasta is such a prevalent part of our culture we often don’t think much about it. Americans consume more than 6 billion pounds of noodles a year.

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The word pasta means “paste,” which describes how it appears after combining the main ingredients of flour and water.

It’s surprising that our favorite simple carbohydrate has more than 400 variations – each with its very own sauce. Doesn’t sound so simple now, does it?

And that’s just the tip of the spaghetti string. Here are seven more things you probably didn’t know about pasta.

1. Pasta required a papal decree.

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These days the Pope has bigger issues to deal with than pasta. Photo: Republic of Korea / Flickr

In the 13th century, pasta guilds and bakers fought over the right to make pasta. The Pope stepped in to try and ease tensions and at one point illegal pasta making was punishable by fine or worse, whipping. The problem was finally resolved in a 1641 papal decree requiring pasta shops be at least 25 yards apart.

2. Kraft owes thanks to Thomas Jefferson

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Mac and cheese goodness. Photo: Matt Mets / Flickr

While serving as ambassador to France, Thomas Jefferson became a big fan of macaroni topped with parmesan cheese. He eventually had a macaroni mold bought in Naples and sent to his home in Monticello.

While he neither introduced the U.S. to nor invented mac n’ cheese, he is credited with popularizing the dish and even served it at a White House dinner in 1802.

3. Americans lurve their pasta.

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And kids lurve to play with it. Photo: nvainio / Flickr

There is no way around it – Americans eat a lot of pasta. How much? While we produce more than 4 billion pounds of pasta every year, we consume more than 6 billion pounds. Need more? Each American eats approximately 20 glutenous pounds of the stuff annually. (Italy is tops at 60 lbs/year.)

4. They’ve made miles long pasta.

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Press and repeat. And repeat. And repeat. Photo: MSRMichael SR / Flickr

The Guinness World Record holder for pasta goes to Lawson’s Pasta Restaurant in Japan that made a 12,388 ft (approx. 2.35 miles) cooked piece of pasta in October of 2010.

I’m curious if that would fit into the largest bowl of pasta, which was made by Buca di Beppo of Garden Grove, CA, and weighed in at 13,786 lbs.

5. This post is totes Macaroni.

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Like “Vogueing” but food related.

Back in 18th century England, Macaroni was a term used to describe something that was very fashionable. It was also something of a derogative term for men with overblown hairstyles who dressed swanky.

6. Pasta Is old. Pasta marinara is new.

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Out with the old, in with the new. Photo: Jorge Gonzalez / Flickr

The Chinese have been eating pasta since approximately 5,000 B.C. And while Marco Polo gets credited for bringing pasta to Italy in the 13th century, records show that it was Arabs who introduced it sometime during the 9th century.

Now tomatoes were a New World fruit that Spanish conquistadors brought back to Europe in the 16th century that didn’t even make their way into pasta dishes until the mid- to-late 1700s.

7. The last three letters of pasta tell you a lot about it.

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Teaching you the A, B, Cs of pasta.

Some shells are large, others small. Same goes for the thickness of pasta types. But how can you know which is which? If something ends in “ini” or “ine” like tortellini or linguine, it tends to be small or thin. But if pasta ends in “oni” like rigatoni, it’s large or thick.