Nothing can be said with certainty about the origins of this famous Italian dish. It is likely that the people living in the Mediterranean or Middle East invented spaghetti around 2000-2500 years ago. Although the Chinese had been eating chao-min (noodles) since 4000 BC, they can’t be treated as spaghetti in the strict sense of the definition. More over, Durum Wheat, an essential ingredient, was not known in China in those periods.

Among the mentions of a dish made of compounds made of flour and water, the earliest is of a Greek physician Galen. He names this dish ‘itiron’. Another dish with a similar name, ‘itirum’, was common in the Palestine from 3rd century AD to 5th century AD. ‘Itirum’ was identical to boiled dough. Arabian lexicographers compiling dictionaries in the 9th century describe ‘itriyya’ (itirum) as string-like shapes made of semolina and dried before cooking.

When the dish reached Italy, the locals corrupted the name from ‘itriyya’ to ‘tria’. The name signified long strips of ‘tagliatelle’ and ‘trenette’. With time, the name changed to ‘lasagna’, which means sheets. Spaghetti is ‘thin rolled sheets’ and that is where its current name comes from.


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Lucas Beaumont
Generalist. Wikipedia contributor. Elementary school teacher from Saskatchewan, Canada.

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